Harbor Freight Tools

The lights are on at Harbor Freight Tools on East State Road, and workers are putting the finishing touches on the store on Thursday in preparation for a Tuesday opening. There will be a Dec. 20 grand opening, company officials reported.

ALLEGANY — The newest addition to the retail landscape in the West End is set to open its doors Tuesday.

Company officials reported that the newly-constructed 16,000-square-foot Harbor Freight Tools store at the former DeSoto Motel site is almost ready for unveiling.

“Our Olean store will soft open Dec. 10, and grand open on Dec. 20,” said Lisa Hartley, a media planner with Harbor Freight.

Harbor Freight is known for low-priced imported tools and accessories, as well as its use of coupons. According to the company’s website, the company was founded in 1977. The business has expanded from 304 stores in 2012 to around 900 today.

Currently, there are dozens of Harbor Freight stores in Upstate New York. The closest to Olean is in Lakewood, just west of Jamestown.

“This will be the 45th Harbor Freight Tools store in New York, and based on the volume of customers in our existing stores, we believe that Olean will be equally successful,” Hartley said.

Employees have been hired for the location, with recruiting occurring for several months.

“Usually there are between 30-35 employees in each store,” Hartley added.

The project was developed by Ellicott Development, the Buffalo-based firm founded by Carl Paladino, a St. Bonaventure University graduate and former Republican candidate for governor.

In addition to the main structure at the front of the lot, a second, 6,300-square-foot building, is also on the drawing board for the rear of the property for rental.

The motel dates to the postwar era.

Raymond and Paul Rink, two brothers from Bradford, Pa., opened the DeSoto in 1960, with the business thriving for decades due to its proximity to St. Bonaventure University. Increased competition from newer structures in the 1990s led to a decline in the business. The old motel closed around 2009 and was bought by Ellicott Development in 2012. Allowed to deteriorate for years before purchase, officials chose to demolish the structure in late 2015. At that time, developers had no set plans for the vacant property.

The brothers’ other DeSoto, in Bradford, Pa., continues operation today under the America’s Best Value Inn name.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)