Dollar General was expected to construct a new store in the recently added Wadena business park on Hwy 71 south but the convenience store decided against the move, according to a city official.

“They did not give an explanation as to why they decided to cancel the purchase agreement,” Wadena Economic Development Director Dean Uselman said. “Unfortunately that’s a disappointment, but that also leaves an opportunity for someone else to bring in a convenience store on the south side of town.”

The city approved the sale of lots to Dollar General investors, Overland Group, in October 2019. At that time, the group had a set time period in which they had to sign the purchase agreement or the agreement was null.

One potential business that might jump on that are owners of the Southside Sinclair station Ryan and Paul Hunke. They opened their pay-at-the-pump fuel station this winter and have considered adding a convenience store to the equation. At this time, Ryan said he’s looking over numbers to determine if it's a feasible idea to pursue.

“We’ve shook around the idea,” Ryan said. “We’ll get a feel for it and put some numbers together.”

The site Dollar General was expected to construct on will still be cleared of two pole shed buildings that were sold. Uselman said those will be removed soon and a street overlay in the business park should be complete in May.

Dollar General would have been the first business identified as a match by the Buxton Group to actually develop in Wadena. The partnership with Buxton is in its third year. The group looks at Wadena’s market and can identify shopping trends from Wadena buyers. That can help identify potential businesses that would do well in Wadena’s market or suggest ways current businesses could gain more business. Uselman explained in the past that this partnership would take time to see results. He said he continues to work with businesses that have been identified by Buxton as matches for Wadena.

One other business that was identified by the Buxton Group was O’Reilly Auto Parts, which is currently looking at a location near Timber Roots on Hwy 71 N. in Wadena. Uselman explained its location as the site of the former Service Master building. He said the auto parts company is in the process of site and building plans. He expects an engineer would be submitting plans for permitting soon. He added that he’s been working with the company for nearly a year to open a location in Wadena.

A new auto parts business could affect current auto parts stores in Wadena like NAPA, Auto Value and Wadena Auto Supply, all located on Hwy 71. Uselman shared that Wadena Auto Supply, located at 122 Jefferson Street N., is a subsidiary of O’Reilly Auto Parts. If O’Reilly’s does locate in Wadena, they would buy out Wadena Auto Supply, Uselman shared during a recent Wadena Rotary meeting.

An O’Reilly’s representative said that no plan is solidified at this point, and the property has not yet been purchased. The company recently sought a variance request with the city of Perham to construct a location there on Jake Street.