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Harbor Freight coming to Alexandria

The discount tool supplier is remodeling the former OfficeMax location on Highway 29.

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The old OfficeMax building on Highway 29 South in Alexandria is being remodeled to be the future home of Harbor Freight, a discount tool supplier. Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

The discount tool supplier Harbor Freight is planning to open a store in Alexandria and has begun hiring, according to city records and online job listings.

It will go into the former OfficeMax building 4525 Hwy 29 S. Its website says it is scheduled to open in October, one of 29 stores it plans to open in the next three months. It also plans to open a location in Bemidji in November.

Harbor Freight is a 40-year-old California-based private company, and according to the company's description on job website Indeed.com, it maintains 950 stores in 48 states and is opening a new location every week. It says it is a $6 billion company on pace to $8 billion in the next few years.

"We offer our customers more than 5,000 tools and accessories, from hand tools and generators to air and power tools, from shop equipment to automotive tools," it says.

Word of Harbor Freight's arrival has already reached some in Alexandria who work with tools.

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"I got a couple guys showing a lot of excitement having it come to town," said Dan Swanstrom, manager of Swanstrom Auto Repair.

Mechanics often buy their tools from visiting tool trucks that offer high-quality, high-dollar tools, and Swanstrom said he expects they will continue to rely on the trucks for those items but shop at Harbor Freight for lower-cost tools that get lighter use.

According to Indeed.com, Harbor Freight plans to hire more than 10 retail associates at its Alexandria store starting at $13 an hour, as well as stockers and managers.

Harbor Freight did not return the Echo Press's phone calls seeking comment.

According to the city of Alexandria, the building owner applied for a building permit on behalf of Harbor Freight on June 4 and one was issued on July 13. The value of the interior work is estimated at $220,000 for the 23,603 square foot building, which is owned by a Florida company and will be leased to Harbor Freight. A plumbing permit was issued 10 days ago.

"I am delighted Harbor Freight made the decision to open a retail location in Alexandria," said Alexandria Mayor Bobbie Osterberg. "They've done their homework. As a regional center, Alexandria is a business friendly, vibrant, stable, supportive community. Their expertise and products are a complement to the already diverse offerings of our community."

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