• New mortuary chapel opens on Main Street
By Naomi Klouda
O’Reilly Auto Parts is set to open in early fall on the Sterling Highway by Pioneer Avenue – an indication that Homer’s economy is seen as a growth market by the national auto chain.
The store is the 14th O’Reilly’s in Alaska, and will join 4,257 other stores nationwide when it’s complete, said Mark Mertz, O’Reilly’s director of external reporting and investor relations in Springfield, Mo. The chain has stores in 42 states.
“The goal is to open within the next couple of months,” Mertz said. “I don’t have a specific date just yet.”
The due diligence process called for in evaluating potential shop success involves looking at a number of economic indicators, Mertz said.
“We look at lots of things when we go to open a new store. For 2014 our goal is to open 200 new stores, Homer being one of them,” he said. “We look at the real estate, the site selection, the individual economy of a market, the competitive landscape, the number of vehicles in the market, the population, the professional service providers and mechanics, the number of people who work on cars for other people.”
In order for a town to score high enough on the evaluation, the indications need to show positives in all the categories. In Homer, O’Reilly’s will compete against Napa Auto Parts and Car Quest.
“After all that work, we look to see if this is a market that has a need,” Mertz said. “We’ve identified Homer as a market.”
Mertz said to plan on about eight to 12 jobs being added to the local economy. Typically, the manager comes from out of town, but the rest of the team is hired locally as much as possible. O’Reilly’s also has a store in Kenai and one in Soldotna. Each store is typically 7,000 square feet.
O’Reilly’s opened as a family operation in 1957 in Springfield. Currently, three family members sit on the board of directors of this publicly traded corporation.
Peninsula Memorial Chapel and Crematory plans a new chapel, this one on the corner of Main Street and the Sterling Highway.
Owner Tim Wisniewski, who owns the Homer Funeral Home and Peninsula Memorial in Kenai, said the new chapel will help serve families closer to town. The current funeral home is located on Diamond Ridge, which isn’t an easy location to access, he said.
“This will be closer to the hospital and may be more convenient,” he said. The building was renovated by Doug Green Construction, a 700-square-foot structure that will provide a view of Kachemak Bay and seat about 40 people. It should be open by late August, Wisniewski said.
Homer Theatre is now listed for sale after owners Jamie and Lynnette Sutton signed a contract with Alderfer Realty.
“We’ve owned the theater for 11 years, and during that 11 years, we’ve had a lot of fun running a successful business,” Sutton said. “Now it’s time to move on, and let someone else have the fun of running the theater.”
The Suttons live in the San Francisco Bay area, but summer in Homer, where Lynnette was raised and their daughter graduated from Homer High School. Jamie works as an attorney specializing in criminal law. His wife is an interior designer.
When they bought the Homer Theatre in 2003, its curved plywood seats were held together by duct tape and the building suffered from flooding. The Suttons invested in renovations, constructing a new front and eventually added a $160,000 digital projector with a new screen and lenses to offer 3D movies.
“We put a new facade to look like a theater that would be in Homer when Homer began,” Jamie said. “It was in funky shape, but we fixed it up and now here it is.”
He said the theater isn’t being sold because of a lack of profit, or due to new consumer habits that have killed off numerous historic theaters around the country.
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