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Hobby Lobby coming to Paul Bunyan Mall

Hobby Lobby tentatively plans to open its doors in January in the former Kmart location at Paul Bunyan Mall.

BEMIDJI -- National craft chain Hobby Lobby will be Paul Bunyan Mall's new anchor tenant, finally filling the space former anchor Kmart left in late 2012.

Scot Snitker, regional manager for property owner Lexington Realty International, said Hobby Lobby tentatively plans to open the Bemidji location sometime in January.

"We're very excited," he said. "It'll change the face of the mall."

Preliminary renovations on the space were already in progress, Snitker said Tuesday. In addition, Hobby Lobby will have its own main contractor along with local subcontractors conduct extensive renovations to its new home, including a new entrance.

Snitker was unable to provide a number of employees that would work at the new location, but he did say it would be a "large employer."

The Hobby Lobby will occupy roughly 57,000 square feet, not the entirety of the former Kmart space, Snitker said. Although a Jo-Ann Fabrics already calls a different area of Paul Bunyan home, Jo-Ann executives are aware of the new Hobby Lobby and have signed off on the plan, he said.

Hobby Lobby coming in is the first phase of a series of new tenants coming to Paul Bunyan Mall, Snitker said, but he declined to disclose their identities.

Other Hobby Lobbies are located in Grand Forks, N.D. and Duluth.

The Oklahoma City, Okla.-based company was the center of controversy earlier this year when they litigated a U.S. Supreme Court case allowing Hobby Lobby and other companies to deny coverage of contraception in their employee health plans based on those companies' religious rights.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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