VERMILLION, S.D. -- The new Runnings store in Vermillion, with 74,000 square feet of space, clocks in at more than seven times the size of the previous one.
The Minnesota-based Runnings retail chain, which specializes in outdoor, sporting, apparel, home improvement, garden and tools, pet supplies and farm-related goods, opened a location in Vermillion, purportedly its furthest south, in January 2020. Runnings had taken over the old Campbell Supply, a farm goods retailer.
The Campbell Supply building on West Cherry Street was about 10,000 square feet. Runnings store manager Brandon Baughman said it wasn't exactly roomy -- "you could get one cart down the aisle, maybe."
So Runnings decided to build a new store. In May of last year, the chain announced it had purchased 8.5 acres of land from the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company, commonly referred to as the VCDC.
Construction on the new store, at 715 Bower St. -- on the northwest edge of town across from the Walmart and a ways behind the Hy-Vee -- began in June. It opened in March.
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"Now we've got all kinds of space -- it's just so much better," Baughman said.
Although it's a college town and the Clay County seat, and the only place in the county with an appreciable number of stores, Vermillion has a limited retail trade -- for instance, prior to Runnings, the only retailers that sold apparel were Walmart, a few thrift and consignment stores, a couple smaller women's boutiques, the Tractor Supply Co. and the University of South Dakota's branded clothing store.
So in some ways, Vermillion was ripe for the picking for a new store.
"Vermillion does have a good amount of property that's available, and so as retailers start looking at expansions, I think that Vermillion will start seeing more opportunities," said Nate Welch, president and CEO of the VCDC.
There's one product line in particular that's done well, Baughman said -- firearms, hunting supplies and fishing supplies. "That is something that is just not readily available in Union, Clay, Turner (counties) -- there is something in Yankton County -- but it's very scarce, there's not much of that around here."
"This was something that this whole town and area has just been looking forward to," he added.
The Vermillion store is the 53rd in the chain, which is still expanding and currently has around 56 locations. The chain has an especially heavy presence in Minnesota and South Dakota.
Despite its success in the Upper Midwest, Runnings has only two stores in Siouxland -- the one in Vermillion and one in Rock Rapids, Iowa. Sioux City-based Bomgaars, which is in some respects similar to Runnings, has a heavy presence throughout the Northwest Iowa trade region.