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Kohl’s is coming: Department store to open in September at Paul Bunyan Mall

Kohl's is set to open in September in the Paul Bunyan Mall. The department store will take up a section of the area that was once Kmart. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Shopping options will be on the rise for area residents this fall as the Paul Bunyan Mall opens its doors to its newest tenant: Kohl's.

The department store chain is anticipated to open in September, and will take up an area of roughly 35,000 square feet. The space the Kohl's store will reside in is a section of the area that was once Kmart, which occupied 96,100 square feet.

Since the Kmart store closed in 2012, 55,000 square feet of the space is now used by Hobby Lobby.

According to Scot Snitker, national property manager for Lexington Realty International which owns the mall, the Kohl's store will take up the rest of the space of the former tenant and also expand into the mall, up to the current Foot Locker.

Construction work on the new department store began March 28, yet the process as a whole began 18 months ago.

The company moving in opened its first department store in Brookfield, Wis. in 1962 and went public in 1992. According to its website, Kohl's now has almost 1,200 stores in 49 states.

As of Monday, Snitker said the amount of workers the store will employ isn't known, although it will bring a “substantial amount” of jobs.

Snitker also said mall officials are expecting good shopping results for both local and regional customers.

"From tracking zip codes, we know that an enormous amount of people come from International Falls and up in that area," Snitker said. "They come to the property and we saw an increase with Hobby Lobby. We anticipate Kohl's producing the same results,” Snitker said.

He added bringing in a business like Kohl’s to the area will enable shoppers to stay local.

“It minimizes the need to leave," Snitker said.

Recent changes to the mall, such as adding Kohl's and Hobby Lobby as well as changing carpet, seating, paint and new lighting, tie into a plan to rebrand the mall and change the logo. Snitker said shoppers will be able to help with the logo decision, too, by choosing from five potential designs.

"We want the community involved in that to select it," Snitker said. "We're going to have posters of them up at the mall, and people will be able to vote on the one they want,” Snitker said.