Most of the vests, hunting gear, fishing poles and exercise equipment are in place at the new Scheels Sporting Goods store on Billings’ West End.
The only thing missing are the customers, whom store workers are eagerly anticipating as they near their Sept. 6 opening at Shiloh Crossing.
“We’re getting close,” store leader Todd Anderson said Tuesday during a sneak peek for media and community members.
The 220,000-square-foot store will be the second-largest nationwide for the Fargo, N.D.-based retailer. Company officials tout it as a “destination” store: come for the Ferris wheel, mini bowling alley and shooting gallery, stay to shop and grab a bite to eat at Gramma Ginna’s soup-and-sandwich shop.
Scheels is clearing out inventory from its current store at Rimrock Mall and is planning to close this Sunday. Mall officials have not announced a replacement for the anchor store.
At Shiloh Crossing, visitors were excited to see what’s different in the new store. The second floor has a 35-foot-tall wildlife mountain, and 200 different animals stuffed and mounted. The bald eagle, which is illegal to kill, is a replica made with turkey feathers, a store official said.
On both sides of the Ferris wheel, animatronic figures of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson read passages from the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence, respectively.
Walking in the front door, visitors are greeted by a 16,000-gallon, saltwater aquarium, which will be filled with 700 fish.
“When you walk in the store, how fun is that going to be?” said assistant store manager Matt Cowen, who’s worked for Scheels in Billings since 2002.
About 30 people took the hourlong tour, and most were impressed.
“I view this as being the crown jewel of Billings. I really believe that when people come to town to do their shopping, they won’t leave without coming here first or last,” Ed Workman of the Big Sky Economic Development Authority said.