Big R opened its doors in Pekin at 3315 Court Street in July of 2011 with then-CEO Jerry Gibbs saying “we are extremely happy to locate our new store in Pekin. We feel that there is a need for our business model and our type of retail store in the Pekin area to create new jobs while keeping this vacant building on the tax roles.”
The City of Pekin loaned Big R $225,000.00 from the Pekin Economic Development Investment Fund (PEDIF) at 3 ½% interest to be paid back in three (3) annual payments of $83,147.11. The City structured a credit option towards the loan with potential repayment of 2.25% on sales tax dollars generated above the base sales of $3.5M, not to exceed the loan payment.
Leigh Ann Brown, the City of Pekin's Economic Development Director noted many of the positive impacts that came about as a result of this public/private partnership.
"This developers agreement generated increased property tax with improvements to the building and site, new jobs with current employment of 30, and up to 40 during holiday season, increased sales tax and a community supporter," said Brown.
"The biggest thing we want to convey is that we may have the Big Box Store feel, but we are truly a local family run company. Our corporate offices are right up Hwy 24 in Watseka," said Nathan Monroe, Store Manager.
" We have 17 stores in Illinois and Indiana, and we make it a point to be involved in the communities we serve. We are priced competitively with anyone, and if we miss a price on one of our 80,000 items, we do have a price match guarantee on identical items. You can feel good about spending your money here, as it does go far in helping others. We are more than just a farm store. We have a fantastic selection of Pet, Lawn and Garden, Sporting Goods, and Clothing," said Monroe.
Big of Pekin has been a great community supporter, sponsoring local 4-H and FFA chapters in Tazewell, Peoria, and Woodford counties, sponsoring Central Illinois based conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Whitetails Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and Pheasants Forever, and Shop with a Hero in partnership with Pekin Police and Fire Departments.
Big R also has a partnership with TAPS Animal Shelter, provide space and water for charity car washes, lobby access for non-profits and youth groups to raise money, offer monetary donations to service clubs that bag customer goods, and partner with the Avanti’s Dome in bringing events to Pekin. They also offer Hunter's Safety classes for area youth several times per year.
Big R opened its first store at Watseka in 1965 as a farm store. Since that time, Big R has expanded it’s departments to include: a complete line of lawn and garden, outdoor sporting goods for the fishing and hunting enthusiasts, a complete line of both women and mens work wear and casual clothing, a unique housewares selection, an extensive department for pet food and needs, feed for farm animals, automotive, plumbing, electrical, paint and a repair shop for their large line of power equipment.