Spokane Journal of Business

Fred’s Appliance plans new store in Montana

Retailer’s Billings outlet slated for Office Max’s building

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Spokane-based appliance retailer Fred’s Appliance Inc. is planning to open a store in Billings, Mont., its third store in that state, says Troy Varness, the company’s general manager. 

Fred’s other Montana stores are in Missoula and Kalispell, Varness says. Both of those stores opened in 2013. 

The new store will occupy a 25,000-square-foot building and is slated to open in the fall, Varness says. 

“We’re waiting for a couple pieces to fall in place,” he says. Mainly, Fred’s is waiting for the current tenant in that building, an outlet of Naperville, Ill.-based office supply retailer Office Max, to vacate, he says. 

“We’re hoping they can get out sooner (rather than later), but they don’t have to,” Varness says. 

Fred’s operates six stores in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Kennewick, Varness says, two of which are “ding-and-dent” centers that sell appliances with minor cosmetic damage. The company’s Montana outlets are full retail stores with warehouse space, Varness says. 

Fred’s employs 138 people overall, and is looking to hire about 15 people to staff the Billings store, Varness says.  

He says the company decided to open the Billings store because of the population base there. 

“Billings is the largest city in Montana,” he says. “The Missoula store has done very well also. The community has really supported us both in Missoula and Kalispell, and there really are no other large independent appliance suppliers in Billings. “

Fred’s, which was established in Spokane in 1962, sells and services a range of appliances, Varness says. 

“We carry virtually every major appliance brand out there, and we typically keep more in stock (than other retailers),” Varness contends. “That’s probably one of the biggest things: We have a large inventory.”

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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