Rural King plans to take over former Gander Mountain store

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - For two years, the former Gander Mountain has sat empty. Now, the hardware chain Rural King announced they're taking over the shuttered store off Huntsville's north parkway.

The Huntsville location will be Rural King's third Alabama store.

When you talk about retail in north Huntsville, you're going to hear a lot of 'used to be's'.

"We've seen so many changes in this town," Huntsville resident Pat Mirandy said.

Shuttered storefronts along the parkway are easy to spot. And one of the biggest 'used to be's', Gander Mountain, closed in 2017.

"I kept thinking, 'Oh God. I hope Gander Mountain doesn't turn into another haunted house'," Mirandy said.

Haunted? No. New Rural King store manager Jim McNelly is very much alive.

"I came down to Huntsville and drove through town and went 'Wow'," McNelly said.

As faded green is turned to bright red, this 'used to be' is now a 'soon to be.' McNelly drove from Ohio, tasked with overseeing the building and hiring of the first Rural King in Huntsville.

"We sell everything from guns to sporting goods to hardware," McNelly said.

McNelly said he's hoping it'll take just under two months before they can welcome their first customers. Huntsville city leaders say Marco Contractors has a permit for around $400,000 worth of renovations, getting this place ready for Rural King.

"We're going to be hiring quite a few associates, I've hired quite a few already," McNelly said.

All told, McNelly says the Huntsville store will employ around 100 people.

"And we have free popcorn, every day," McNelly said.

An appetizing prospect for the curious shopper and perhaps dozens of job hunters.

"Yay! New jobs for people. That'd be awesome," Mirandy said.

McNelly says they hope to open by the end of August. Rural King also has stores in Dothan and Muscle Shoals. McNelly says they're working with the city on permits, Rural King also sells livestock, including chicks, ducklings, turkeys, and rabbits.

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