By Debbie Adams
The new Big Lots in Vinton celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, March 13. Due to health restrictions from the pandemic, management chose a low-key event—not the usual ceremony with local officials offering speeches, a ribbon-cutting, and crowds of guests. Store Manager Jeff Greene, Furniture Lead Barry Silver, and District Training Manager Brad Dillon did cut a ribbon of sorts—a cash register tape.
There has been a Big Lots store in Vinton for 31 years located at Lake Drive Plaza. The store does a booming business; that led to the need for a larger space. Fortunately, the Wilkinson Group of developers were renovating River Park Shopping Center and welcomed Big Lots as their anchor tenant.
Jeff Greene has been general manager of the Vinton Big Lots for 27 and a half years. Several of their employees have been on the team in Vinton for over 20 years. The new store will add about 10 positions to make a total of 35 employees.
Renovations got underway in the fall of 2020 with the intention of creating a “store of the future.”
Big Lots District Manager Terra Breeding says that the building was just a shell when renovations began and has been completely redone inside and out with a new façade, improvements to the parking lot, and a sales floor of about 39,000 square feet. The centerpiece of the new store—and the first thing you notice on entering—is the 7,000-square-foot furniture pad, one of the largest in any Virginia Big Lots location.
The store is now able to offer outdoor, living room, bedroom, dining room, and office furniture, including the Broyhill brand.
Big Lots defines itself as a “unique, non-traditional, discount retailer,” offering an extensive assortment of brand-name items and products including food, seasonal items, electronics, accessories, kitchen equipment, dinnerware, linens, bedding, mattresses, patio and garden supplies, home décor, toys, gifts, personal care, pet supplies, and apparel.
Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The River Park Shopping Center was constructed in 1988. A Winn-Dixie grocery originally occupied the anchor space until it closed in 2005. Super Dollar Discount Foods moved in in 2008. The new Big Lots is one-third bigger than the Super Dollar grocery.
Big Lots had its origins back in 1967 when Sol Shenk founded Consolidated International Inc. He is considered one of the true visionaries in the discount retail marketplace.
Shenk loved making “crazy closeout deals,” particularly on auto parts and vehicles. The company launched the Odd Lots/Big Lots closeout chain in 1982. Over the years the chain grew to include Big Lots, Odd Lots, Mac Frugal’s Bargains, Closeouts, and Pic ‘N’ Save.
In 2001 all of the stores were converted to the single Big Lots national brand with their headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. According to their website, their mission is: “We help people live BIG and save LOTS.”
Big Lots operates over 1,400 stores in 47 states across the nation; there are four in the Roanoke Valley alone, on Hershberger Road in Roanoke, in Salem, and at Cave Spring, in addition to the Vinton location. There are about 40 stores in Virginia.
It is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange with annual revenues exceeding $5 billion.
“We are excited for the relocation of the Vinton Big Lots to River Park Shopping Center,” said Vinton Town Manager Pete Peters. “Both developer Dale Wilkinson and Big Lots have invested a significant amount of new capital into the building and infrastructure, and it is always great to see older properties being renovated and create new leasing options to support and grow our small-town economy.
“Big Lots provides a great and popular shopping option for the Vinton community and this new location will provide for a much larger footprint and offer more variety for their customers,” Peters added. “The foot traffic that this new location will generate will also help breathe new life into the shopping center as a whole and will become the anchor tenant that River Park has been missing for the last several years. It will help attract new businesses and retain the smaller retail and service industry shops to fill out that space.”
Currently, other tenants include Pizza Hut, Dollar General, and the Defy Gravity Training Center.
“Another benefit of Big Lots relocating is that it has freed up a space a Lake Drive and that appears to have already been secured for a new national retailer to our community that will hopefully be another destination for shoppers coming into Vinton that did not exist previously. All in all, this is a great project all around for our town and will result in a net increase in retail,” Peters said.