Best Buy coming to Kingsport Pavilion

Rick Wagner • Aug 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — An open secret about an electronics retailer locating in the Model City is finally official.

Minneapolis-based Best Buy Co. Inc. has filed for a building permit for a $2.4 million store at the Kingsport Pavilion.

The retailer will build its 25,000-square-foot prototype store at 2716 E. Stone Drive in an outparcel in front of the parking lot fronting Dick’s Sporting Goods. Plans are for the building to face west, Assistant City Manager for Development Jeff Fleming said Wednesday morning after the city announced the project was a go.

The Kingsport Best Buy is to become the third outlet in the Tri-Cities, following the first location in Johnson City and one that opened in Bristol, Va., earlier this year in the area of Exit 7 off Interstate 81.

“We had originally hoped to see this store open about a year earlier, but given the current national retail environment we are pleased that an opening date has been set for the first quarter of 2009,” Fleming said in a news release. “They certainly will help us continue building an important retail niche, and we look forward to Best Buy joining a vibrant Kingsport retail community.”

According to an analysis of the Kingsport retail market completed last year, computer hardware, software and supplies were a major source of lost retail sales in Kingsport. The market analysis by retail demographer Buxton Co. indicated Kingsport loses at least $31.9 million in computer/software sales as compared to communities of similar makeup.

Kingsport has a Circuit City and Office Depot, as well as two Wal-Marts, a Sears, Kmart and Target that sell electronics, among others.

Best Buy spokeswoman Katie Stoneburner said Wednesday evening she had no information about a store being built in Kingsport. But plans reported by This Week in Consumer Electronics called for Best Buy to open as many as 100 new stores in the company’s fiscal 2009 year, which began March 1, and the company Web site lists five stores opening this week in Auburn, Calif.; Lady Lake, Fla.; Highland, Ind.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Grafton, Wis.

And Wednesday, Best Buy announced it will start selling the iPhone on Sept. 7, becoming the first U.S. chain to do so outside of Apple Inc.’s and AT&T Inc.’s own stores.

The Kingsport Best Buy store is expected to place more of an emphasis on technology and less on appliances, Fleming said.

“We are pleased they chose a larger 25,000-square-foot store for Kingsport, which will be built according to their latest model,” he said. “We expect this store will have a greater focus on technology and consumer electronics.”

Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said the Best Buy decision is an example of the city’s continuing economic growth despite national trends.

“We know how tough times are in certain parts of the country and the region,” Phillips said. “But at the same time, whether commercial, retail, industrial or residential, the Kingsport economy is proving durable.”

For fiscal 2008, Kingsport logged 44 retail construction projects estimated at $39.8 million in value. Work is expected to begin this year on a major $33 million Kingsport Town Center mall renovation and expansion.

At the Kingsport Pavilion, anchored by Target and Kohl’s, a Decorator’s Warehouse is set to open a new location before Christmas, and Ulta Cosmetics opened its store there last month.

With $40 billion in sales last year, according to the company Web site and published reports, Best Buy donates as much as 1.5 percent of pre-tax profits to charity.

In fiscal 2008, the company donated $31.8 million. In July, the company indicated it expects to double sales volume within five years.

Best Buy operates in the United States, Canada, Europe and China. It employs about 150,000 employees at retail locations, multiple call centers and Web sites, in-home solutions, product delivery and in communities.

For more information visit www.bestbuyinc.com.

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