Plan proposed for long-vacant Grafton Pick 'n Save

The former Pick 'n Save store on Wisconsin Avenue in Grafton has sat vacant since 2009. One of the more serious proposals for the site was in 2015, when a laser tag firm had applied for a conditional use permit, then withdrew consideration.

GRAFTON - After more than a decade of sitting vacant and potential uses coming and going, there is a plan for a portion of the former Grafton Pick ‘n Save site that is extremely promising.

Harbor Freight Tools has submitted documents to the village in order to occupy approximately 18,000 of the 56,000-square-foot space at 1827 Wisconsin Ave.

The California-based Harbor Freight bills itself as “America's go-to store for low prices” and carries more than 4,000 products, specializing in air compressors, generators, wrenches, drills, saws, hand tools, tool storage, welding supplies and automotive tools, power tools, jacks, tool boxes and more, according to its website. It has more than 1,300 locations around the country, including in Germantown, West Allis and Waukesha.

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It was founded in 1977, originally as a mail order business and is still family owned and operated to this day.

While the deal is not yet done, Harbor Freight Director of Corporate Communications and Content Craig Hoffman told the News Graphic that the company is very serious about coming here.

“While I can’t confirm anything officially yet, I can confirm that we are very, very interested and actively working to bring a new Harbor Freight Tools store to Grafton.”

Grafton Community Development Director Jessica Wolff said no zoning change is needed for the property, but that Harbor Freight will go before the Plan Commission June 28. That is when a public hearing is scheduled for a conditional use permit.

According to the plan of operation submitted to the village, the store would be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and employ 10 people per shift. It also shows an opening date of July 14, which Wolff said may not be probable. She thinks later this summer may be more realistic.

Hoffman could not comment on the date.

Pick 'n Save operated in the space from 1990 to 2009, when it moved to a newly built store just south on Wisconsin Avenue. A Blain’s Farm & Fleet will open in the former Shopko space this fall, marking a significant makeover for the shopping center that also includes a Dollar Store, Even Odds Pizza, Cousin’s, Dragon Gourmet Chinese restaurant and more.

“The village is excited to welcome Harbor Freight Tools as the latest key retailer in the South Commercial District,” Wolff said. “We believe that filling these vacant spaces with quality businesses like Blain’s Farm & Fleet and Harbor Freight Tools will have a long term positive impact on this area of Grafton.”