by Mike Burkett
roundup staff reporter
In early June, shoppers were promised by developer George Harrison that the long-awaited, much-delayed Rim Country Mall would finally open absolutely, definitely and without question before Aug. 1.
That didn't happen.
But the 75,000-square-foot shopping center in the old Wal-Mart building on Highway 260 has been open since Aug. 27.
At least part of it.
The Sears part.
And Sears owner Bruce Griffin is extremely happy about that.
"We're all moved in, 100 percent, and it's wonderful," Griffin said. "The increased space has allowed us to double the number of appliances that we had in the old store" on the northeast corner of the Beeline Highway and East Bonita Street.
"I think we're now very close to what a major-mall Sears would offer," he said.
"We're up to 69 refrigerators from 39 at the old store; we've got 32 stoves instead of the 14 we had at the old store. I think when people come in here, they're going to be very pleasantly surprised."
As for the benefits to his business, Griffin said, "We're getting more walk-in traffic, no doubt about it. And obviously, we have improved our visibility quite a bit.
"We've had a lot of people from Payson come in and say, 'Boy, we just couldn't wait for a Sears to open in town!' All you can do is bite your lip and smile."
Sears is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Griffin is planning a "re-Grand Opening" for mid-October, by which time he may still be the Rim Country Mall's sole operating tenant despite Payson Athletic Club owner Keven Rush's best efforts to move his business into the building sooner than that.
"If I knew the answer to 'When will you be opening in the new space?,' I would have called you first," Rush said. "I know what we're shooting for, but I'm not in control of anything, so it's hard to say."
Still, Rush agrees to wager his best guess. "As of this week, I've been told that they'll be finished with the construction portion of the facility by the end of September," he said.
"I'm anticipating that it will take us three to four weeks to get in from that point to get the lockers delivered and installed, the TVs delivered and installed, desks and all that stuff.
"So I'm hoping praying that we'll be open in the Rim Country Mall by Nov. 1."