Biz Buzz: Big Lots to close, early plans link space to Harbor Freight

Big Lots opened its store in the Westgate Mall in Baxter in the spring of 2012 and recently acknowledged it is closing that location. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

After weeks and weeks of no comment, referrals to other phone numbers — one of which went to someone who no longer works with the company (thankfully she did call back) and other phone numbers that never went to a living person — a Big Lots employee confirmed what most everyone guessed by now. The store is closing in Baxter.

There has been speculation Big Lots could open somewhere else in the community, but there isn’t confirmation of such a move at this time.

Customers who came through the door Friday expressed dismay at the store leaving the area.

In its wake, initial plans with the city of Baxter indicate Harbor Freight is the likely new tenant of the space in the Westgate Mall.

Harbor Freight Tools started in 1977. Its website notes it has more than 7,000 tools and accessories matching the quality of competitors but at prices up to 80% less. Harbor Freight states it buys direct from factories supplying the expensive brands and passes those savings on to its 40 million customers at more than 1,000 stores nationwide.


In a statement on the company’s website, CEO/President Eric Smidt stated the company is still family owned and continues its mission established three decades ago — providing quality tools at the lowest prices.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at
Related Topics: BIZ BUZZ
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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