Rural King to fill empty Kmart

Rural King, a home and farm store based in Illinois, will open a store in the vacant Kmart building in the Royal Plaza Shopping Center this September.

The Front Royal store, which will hire about 70 employees, will be the 90th location opened by the company and the first one in Virginia. Other stores are in Florida and the Midwest, according to a news release and Rural King Marketing Director David Bailey.

“We chose the Front Royal location because of the rural community and the people that live there,” Bailey stated in an email.

“We have a Best Value Everyday pricing strategy and we feel the Front Royal community needs lower prices on the goods they use every day,” he noted. “The Front Royal market will be good for Rural King because it is already filled with our customer (base). Hardworking, price-conscious, and loyal people, just like us.”

Rural King sells a variety of goods, from animal feed and power equipment to clothing and home goods. The company has leased the entire 84,000-square-foot building, according to the news release and confirmed by Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke.

“It is my understanding that they are using the entire footprint of the former Kmart building,” said Burke. He noted that the other stores in the shopping center would not be affected.

The occupation of a vacant space is good news to residents, said Felicia Hart, community development director for Front Royal.

“The people have been talking about it on Facebook,” she said. “That’s a big space that we’re very pleased will be filled.”

Hart also said the community will be impacted positively by the store’s arrival.

“(It will create) upwards of 70 jobs,” she said. “Rural King doesn’t want to compete with anybody. They just want to be a good neighbor.”

Burke shared Hart’s sentiment.

“The town is excited that the Royal Plaza appears to have found a long-term tenant to replace Kmart,” he said. “We are excited that it appears Rural King is coming to the area and it should provide both shopping opportunities for the town residents and the surrounding areas.”

Hart said that Shaun Amrine will be the store’s manager.

“It’s a big deal,” said Amrine. “It’s a big deal for Rural King to get into Virginia; first store there; flagship store. It’s definitely not going to be our last. I’m excited to be the one to be there… I was a store manager for Wal-Mart. I started at Wal-Mart when I was 16 years old and worked my way up through the company… I’m real excited to be with Rural King.”

Amrine, who started working for Rural King about four months ago, has already taken part in opening a store in Marysville, Ohio. He said his experience with Wal-Mart has made for a smooth transition.

“I just grand-opened (Rural King) store number 88 there in Marysville,” he said. “I was the co-manager there… I did the same thing with Wal-Mart – set up stores, did grand openings. We’re very family-centric, extremely customer-driven. It truly is a philosophy that we live and die by.”

Amrine said he is signing on a house in the next few days and will be moving to Front Royal soon.

Those interested in employment with Rural King can apply online at www.rktalent.com. The company will start conducting interviews two months prior to the store’s opening and will employ approximately 45 part-time and 25 full-time workers, according to the release. The store will be located at 465 South St.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com