Harbor Freight plans Craig store in Big O Tires building

Harbor Freight has announced it will open a store in the front portion of the new Big O Tires space in Craig in early 2023. 

Harbor Freight representative Craig Hoffman said the company has been looking at opening a Craig location for some time now and wanted to find a location that meets the the company’s and its customers’ needs. 

According to Hoffman, Craig was an ideal location for Harbor Freight’s 21st store in Colorado because the brand’s nearest stores are in Grand Junction and Denver. Finalizing the move was just about finding a space with good visibility, easy access, ample parking and the right square footage, Hoffman said. 

He added that Harbor Freight considered other locations along U.S. Highway 40, but the retail space in the front of Big O Tires rose to the top. Big O Tires owner Charlynne Wondra confirmed on Friday, Nov. 11, that Harbor Freight started demolition early last week, and the new store is expected to open in about three months. 

Lakeview Construction, which has completed builds on other Harbor Freight locations, is renovating the 15,000-square-foot space in the Big O Tires building. 

“It’s exciting,” Wondra said of the move. “We always knew we were going to do something with the added space, and Harbor Freight had reached out to Big O Tires in the beginning of the year, and it’s finally coming through.” 

Big O Tires, which is locally owned and operated by Wondra and her family, purchased and renovated the former Safeway building at 1295 W. Victory Way in 2021. Since the move, Big O Tires has been far busier with the upgraded space, Wondra said.

“We can service customers better,” Wondra explained. “We have more bays. It’s a beautiful space. I love the showroom, and the employees love having more space in the shop.”

For Harbor Freight, the location will bring a competitive advantage, Hoffman said. Many Harbor Freight customers are professional trade workers, so the central location will make it easier for them to stop in and find what they need. 

Hoffman also said the size of the store will make it easy for customers to browse and find deals on items they need. Harbor Freight carries tools and accessories including automotive, air and power tools, outdoor power equipment, generators, welding supplies, hand tools and more. 

The new location is expected to bring an additional 25 to 30 jobs to Craig. One of the reasons the company officials chose Craig is because they felt there is a wide pool of qualified applicants to join their team. 

“It’s good for everybody,” Wondra said. ”It’s good to have something going into the front of the building. It’s going to be good with it being across from the courthouse, and it will be good for this part of town.” 

When Big O Tires renovated and moved into its new location, the move helped revitalize the west end of the Centennial Mall business area, in addition to other developments at the mall over the past year. 

In July, the Rising Star Youth Training Center moved into a space at the mall directly east of Big O Tires as a temporary location until Rising Star’s new location is built.

Pam Haynes, a local real estate agent who handles large deals for the Centennial Mall, said the mall itself was recently under contract, but the buyer didn’t have all the financing worked out and the deadline couldn’t be extended any further.

There are still new tenants moving into the mall space, though.

Haynes said that Lox Salon recently moved into the mall, along with a new screen printing business, and an automotive business is coming into the mall soon.

“It’s moving as far as commercial, and people are making deals,” Haynes said.

The mall still has a vacancy for a restaurant, as well as a combined workspace. Once Harbor Freight moves in, Haynes said she thinks the Centennial Mall will see more tenants wanting to move in. According to Haynes, commercial properties and spaces are moving fast right now, and there are government incentives available to help.

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