Bigger and brighter Ocean State Job Lot opening in Woonsocket

Bigger and brighter Ocean State Job Lot opening in Woonsocket

Nick Ruotolo, of Smithfield, an electrician with Advance Electrical, also of Smithfield, installs lighting in the new Ocean State Job Lot on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket last week. Job Lot will replace a former Walmart there. (Breeze photos by Tom Ward)

WOONSOCKET – Ocean State Job Lot, a family-operated discount retail chain with 129 stores in New England, New York, and New Jersey, is putting the finishing touches on its restoration of the former Walmart building at 1919 Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket.

The chain will hire an additional 15 to 20 employees, according to its owners, as it expands to a space nearly double the size, at 47,078 square feet, of its existing store up the street, at 24,801 square feet. The new store is expected to open by the end of March.

Though the existing store will close under the plan, having a large retail store occupy the former Walmart property, an 18-acre lot vacant since 2011, could do wonders for an area that’s seen the exodus of a number of stores, including Lowe’s, Shaw’s and Sears. Other businesses, such as Ollie’s and Aero Trampoline Park, have brought some life back to the area in recent years.

Job Lot paid $600,000 for the property last fall.

“At Ocean State Job Lot, we are always looking for opportunities to improve the customer experience in our stores, and in many cases that results in pursuing a relocation,” said Marc Perlman, principal owner and CEO, in a statement. “We have been fortunate to have had a presence in the Woonsocket community for almost 30 years, and we feel a strong connection here, so when we saw the opportunity to move into a larger and brighter space in the vacant Walmart location, we took it.”

The new store has state-of-the-art LED lighting throughout, improving the shopping experience.

“We’ve had tremendous feedback from our customers at recent relocations in North Kingstown, Pawtucket, as well as Fairhaven and Foxboro, Mass., and it’s resulted in a better consumer experience which translates into an uptick in business,” said Paul Cox, director of store operations.

Ocean State Job Lot immediately began work on the property following its purchase last fall, dividing the 121,000-square-foot building to house its own retail location and future additional tenants.

“Mayor (Lisa) Baldelli-Hunt has shared with us that this is a valuable piece of space in the community, and we intend to treat it that way. The city will be pleased with the way we maintain the space and with the additional tenants we hope to bring to the site,” said Perlman.

Since Ocean State Job Lot was founded 40 years ago, philanthropy has been a critical component of the company’s mission, say its owners. In addition to military and veteran assistance, Job Lot supports food banks and pantries across the Northeast, as well as the Boston Medical Center, Rhode Island Free Clinic, Amos House, Trinity Repertory Theater Company, The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, and more than 50 grassroots nonprofit organizations focused on hunger relief, education, health care, water purification and children’s literacy, according to a release.

The company has made its mark in the discount-retail segment through opportunistic buying, allowing it to pass savings to consumers. It recently celebrated four decades in business by expanding its Rhode Island-based distribution center to 1.5 million square feet and adding hundreds of new jobs to the company’s roster of more than 5,000 employees.

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Officials from Ocean State Job Lot look over the new metal racks being installed to hold carpeting and other heavy items in the new Woonsocket store. From left are Seth Kahaian, project manager for store planning; store manager Robert Shammo; Leslie Gouveia, Job Lot regional director; and Mike Chalifoux, Job Lot district manager.


Shenanigans! Average RI commercial retail space goes for $18 to $25 per sq. ft. So how did Ocean State purchase the space for pennies on the dollar, and therefore rob the city of tax revenue? That space should have gone for at least $2.2 million dollars.