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Big Lots opens in Orchards Plaza

Grand opening scheduled for late this month

By , Columbian business reporter
4 Photos
A motorist drives through a packed parking lot at the new Big Lots in Orchards that opened April 4.
A motorist drives through a packed parking lot at the new Big Lots in Orchards that opened April 4. Amanda Cowan/The Columbian Photo Gallery

A Big Lots store had a soft opening last week in the Orchards Plaza shopping center, with a full grand opening event planned for the last weekend of April.

The store’s first day appears to have been April 4, according to the distribution date on a regional ad announcing the store, but a ribbon cutting is planned at 8:30 a.m. April 26, with a promotion to give a free reusable shopping bag filled with treats to the first 50 shoppers on April 26 and 27.

The event will mark the start of a donation program in which Big Lots will donate $5 to the One Life Food Pantry in Vancouver’s Hough neighborhood each time a member of the chain’s BIG Rewards loyalty program redeems a reward at the Vancouver store between April 26 and June 8.

“We are happy to be selected as the charitable partner with Big Lots!” One Life founder and executive director Andrea Walker said in a press release. “By becoming a BIG Lots reward member, and shopping at the new store in Orchards, the community will help to provide 588 individuals right here in our community with much needed, healthy foods.”

The Vancouver Big Lots is in the 30,869-square-foot anchor space of the Orchards Plaza shopping center at the intersection of Northeast 76th Street and 117th Avenue. The building was formerly home to a Safeway but has sat empty since May 2016.

A Clark County building permit application last summer offered the first indication a Big Lots would be moving into the space. Renovation began in October and included minor interior work and exterior facade updates. The store held a two-day hiring event in late January.

The Big Lots takes advantage of the wide spaces of the former grocery store floor plan by locating its furniture department in the center of the store. The tall shelves of the home, consumables and garden section run from the walls toward the center, creating aisles that open into the central space.

The result is an interior with an open feeling, where customers can see across most of the store from any point in the central walkway. The layout is part of a new store format intended to portray the brand as a community retailer with an emphasis on customer service.

“We are excited to introduce our new store format to Vancouver,” Big Lots senior vice president Steve Haffe said in a press release. “It brings to life our new brand traits and showcases our product assortments of affordable solutions in Furniture, Seasonal, Home, Food, and Consumables.”

The format will be used for future Big Lots stores and will be rolled out at the company’s existing locations, according to the press release.

The discount department store chain is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and operates more than 1,400 stores nationwide, employing an estimated 22,900 workers.

Safeway’s corporate parent company still owns the Orchards Plaza building and parking lot, according to Clark County land records.

The Orchards location is the second Big Lots in Clark County — the first is in the Fisher’s Landing Marketplace on Southeast 164th Avenue near the intersection with McGillivray Boulevard. Another Big Lots was previously located in the Vancouver Village shopping center, but closed in 2012.

The ad announcing the opening of the Orchards location also says “big changes” have been made to the other Vancouver Big Lots, although it doesn’t specify what those changes are.

Columbian business reporter