National tool and equipment chain opening at old Kmart

Harbor Freight moves into the old Kamart building at Westgate Plaza in Franklin photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

When Kmart closed its doors in 2018, the massive building it called home for decades was left empty, which is exactly how it has remained… until now. On Monday, Harbor Freight, a privately held discount tool and equipment retailer, announced it will soon be occupying the space. Harbor Freight operates a chain of retail stores, as well as a mail-order and e-commerce business. The company employs more than 20,000 people in the United States and has 1,000 locations in 48 states.

“We’re very excited about our new location that will be coming to Franklin in late to mid-summer,” said Craig Hoffman, director of Communications & Content for Harbor Freight. “This location will be our first in Macon County and our 46th location in North Carolina. We think it will be more convenient for our customers in the community, as they currently have to drive about 45 minutes to Seneca, S.C., or to our location in Henderson which we opened last fall.”

According to Hoffman, Harbor Freight had been working to open the Macon County location for some time, and are looking forward to seeing it completed.

“We’ve been looking to open a location in Macon, and specifically Franklin for some time, but we always believe in making sure we have the best possible location for our customers—one that offers easy access, good visibility and ample parking,” said Hoffman. “We also want to make sure we have the right space — in this case approximately 25,000 square feet. We believe that one competitive advantage we have over our big box stores in this category is that we are far more compact, and easier to shop — while still offering our huge assortment of tools and equipment.  A Harbor Freight store is easier to browse, and since many of our customers are professional tradespeople, easier to come in, pick up exactly what you need and head out to work or the jobsite.”

According to Hoffman, the location at 395 Westgate Plaza in Franklin meets all those requirements.

The new store means new jobs for local residents. 

“We also hire locally—this location will bring between 25-30 new jobs to the community—so we look for a community that offers a great pool of applicants to join the Harbor Freight family,” said Hoffman. “We want to be the best place to work in retail, and we offer very competitive salaries along with a full benefits package and the opportunity to advance in our growing company—we currently have more than 1,100 locations in the U.S. and are adding new locations weekly.”

Interested applicants can apply online at and search “Franklin NC”.

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