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Didn’t get a Boise State cap at Thursday’s Kuna Bi-Mart opening? Mystery gifts await

How Northwest retailer Bi-Mart prepared to open its latest store in Kuna

The 40,000 square-foot Bi-Mart in Kuna is planned to open Nov. 9 but people are already getting their lifetime memberships in front of the store.
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The 40,000 square-foot Bi-Mart in Kuna is planned to open Nov. 9 but people are already getting their lifetime memberships in front of the store.

[Update: Nov. 9, 2017]

It took only a few minutes Thursday morning for workers to hand out 500 coupons for a Boise State cap for shoppers at the Kuna Bi-Mart store.

By the time the store opened at 8:40 a.m., 20 minutes early, more than 1,000 people were waiting in line. The earliest customers arrived by 7 a.m., said Don Leber, the company’s vice president of marketing and advertising.

“Shopping has been strong and brisk all morning,” Leber said. “We’ve had people coming in and carts full of merchandise going out.”

The giveaway for the first 500 people in the store continues each day through Sunday. Leber would not say what those items are, except to say there would be a coupon for a different gift each day that can be redeemed before leaving the store.

Bi-Mart is waiving its requirement for a membership card through Nov. 22. People can come in, look around and make purchases without the card, which costs $5 for a lifetime family membership that is good at all stores.

“It gives them a chance to come in and see what that $5 family membership gives,” Leber said.

The story below was published Oct. 26, 2017, under the headline “Oregon retailer Bi-Mart to enter Treasure Valley with three stores, the first opening next month.”

Bi-Mart, a company known in Idaho mostly for its sponsorship of the Mountain Home Country Music Festival, will open its first Ada County store next month in Kuna. It plans additional stores in Star and Caldwell next year.

The 40,000-square-foot Kuna store — the 77th for the Eugene, Oregon, company — is at East Deer Flat and North Meridian roads near Ridley’s Family Market. The target opening date is Thursday, Nov. 9, said Don Leber, Bi-Mart’s vice president of marketing and advertising.

“Kuna, obviously, has had great growth,” Leber said. “We think it fits perfectly with Bi-Mart’s footprint, the market size that we go into. We’ve been looking at the Treasure Valley area for quite some time.”

Bi-Mart serves mostly small towns with small appliances, housewares, electronics, hardware, clothing, hunting and other sporting supplies and packaged food. Each store also includes a pharmacy.

The company entered Idaho with a store in Weiser in 2006, followed by one in Emmett in 2009. It also has a store in Ontario, Oregon, just across the Snake River from Payette.

Bi-Mart is a membership store. A lifetime family membership costs $5. The company has a tent in front of the Kuna store and is selling memberships from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Those who sign up before the store opens receive a free bucket and household items.

More than 50 people have been hired to work at the Kuna store, mostly in full-time jobs, Leber said.

Store manager Aaron Williams said Kuna residents will now have a place to buy household items without having to drive to Meridian.

Construction recently began on another store at 11347 W. State St. in Star. Bi-Mart also plans to move next year into the old Paul’s Market at 425 N. 10th Ave. in Caldwell.

“I’m just thrilled to have that Paul’s building full again, and I can’t think of a better business to be in there,” Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas told the Statesman.

The Paul’s Market store has been vacant since early last year. It closed after Albertsons bought the seven Paul’s Markets in Idaho, rebranding four and closing three.

Bi-Mart was founded in 1955 with a store in Yakima, Washington. It has had several owners over the years, including Thrifty-Payless and Rite Aid. In 1997, Bi-Mart executives and Endeavor Capital bought the company. Seven years later, Endeavor transferred ownership to Bi-Mart employees. The company has about 3,500 of them.

While Bi-Mart operates stores in larger cities such as Portland, Salem and Eugene, most are in towns with populations of 6,000 to 55,000 people. Kuna, Star and Caldwell fit within that range.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell

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