If you’ve been to Lake of the Ozarks or traveled on Highways 44 or 70 in the past 50 years you’ve seen the billboards and probably stopped at one of the Ozarkland destinations.
Next month, Franklin County residents will be able to experience the niche “red barn” stores much closer to home when the newest Ozarkland opens on Highway 100 in Villa Ridge.
Ozarkland General Manager Kent Reed told The Missourian the location, which was formerly an antique mall, is about a third of the way to getting everything set up for opening.
“May 1 is what we are shooting for. It’s really a great location with 15,000 cars per day going past it,” he said. “Everyone we’ve worked with has been great and are a wholesome bunch of people. We look forward to making even more new friends.”
Reed said Ozarkland has had its eye on the property since the antique mall was still in operation.
“The new lease was finalized around the first of the year,” he said. “We have all of the same items as our other stores, including moccasins, fine clocks and fudge and other chocolate candies made onsite. We also will have ice cream, which is new for us.”
Reed said he was still unsure of the total number of new employees they would need until they know what the business is going to pull in, but teenagers will play a large role in staffing.
“We’ve already hired a number of people,” he said. “We will have a bunch of kids from Pacific High School for our part-timers. That’s been a huge help.”
Reed said the existing building fits the mold of the other Ozarkland barn-themed stores in Branson, Kingdom City, Camdenton and Sarcoxie.
Some work was needed on the inside, but other than painting the roof trademark red, and blocking out some windows, the location was turnkey.
“We will be putting up all of the signs on the outside of the building and roof soon,” Reed said. “We will be putting billboards out on the interstate too.”
Reed added the proximity to Interstate 44 and other local attractions helped them select Villa Ridge and he hopes it will drive business to the new store.
“Ozarkland has always been a road trip destination and being this close to the interstate is ideal,” he said. “Attractions like Six Flags, Purina Farms and even the cities of Washington and Hermann are very unique. This is a good fit for us.”
The Villa Ridge location will bring the Ozarkland franchise back up to five stores.
In late January, the Osage Beach location closed after 39 years in business, but according to Reed, the Villa Ridge store was already in the works.
Reed said the closure had been a long time coming beginning in 2010 when the Highway 54 Expressway opened.
The Villa Ridge Ozarkland is located at 3375 Highway 100, directly across from the Petro Mart Phillips 66 and Burger King.