Harbor Freight Tools wants to open at least five more locations in Wisconsin, including a few in the southeastern region. BizTimes reported this week the California-based tool and equipment retailer will lease the old Sears Outlet building on County Line Road in Germantown. The company also plans to open locations in West Bend, Delavan, Manitowoc and Fond du Lac, and add a second store in Green Bay, said Bryce Islava, Harbor Freight director of real estate. The Wisconsin expansion is part of the retailer's goal of opening 100 new stores each year. It is a pace Harbor Freight has been on over the last four or five years, Islava said. "We're rapidly growing, especially during this home-improvement boom during the (COVID-19) pandemic," he said. The Delavan store will be opening up in a former Shopko. Like the Germantown location, it will be opening up in the coming months. Harbor Freight is still in the "scouting stages" in the other communities, Islava said. It is still researching for the right location in each. “I would say over the next 12 months we could probably see five-plus (new) stores in Wisconsin," he said. According to its website, Harbor Freight looks for retail spaces totaling around 15,000 square feet that are visible to the street, among other criteria. Islava said the company likes to be located in regional retail pockets close to other big box stores. It shies away from peripheral areas and central business districts. It currently operates about 1,100 stores across the 48 contiguous states. It already has five locations in southeastern Wisconsin, including in Racine, Sheboygan, St. Francis, Waukesha and West Allis.
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