State

Sonora to get pet superstore

SONORA — PetSmart will move into part of the vacant Mervyn's store along Highway 108, a business leader said Tuesday.

The announcement came a few days after news that Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores will use another part of the building, in the Sonora Crossroads shopping center at the east end of the city.

PetSmart, the nation's largest specialty retailer of pet supplies, plans to open in the fall, said Larry Cope, director of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority.

A spokesperson at the Phoenix-based chain could not be reached for comment on the expected number of jobs and other details.

Cope said one more retailer is expected in the Mervyn's building, which was vacated a few months after the department store chain filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

PetSmart sells pet food and other products at more than 1,100 stores in the United States and Canada. It also provides pet training, grooming, boarding and adoption services.

The chain has two stores in Modesto and one each in Merced, Manteca, Tracy and Stockton.

"We're excited to welcome PetSmart to our community," Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller said in a news release. "Here is another national retailer who saw a marketing niche, just like Jo-Ann's, creating even more jobs, including management positions."

Tuolumne County's economy has suffered from the housing slowdown, the 2009 closure of the Standard sawmill and retail vacancies. The jobless rate stood at 13.7 percent in December.

Things could be brightening. Sierra Pacific Industries plans to reopen the mill in May, restoring 130 of the 146 jobs. Kohl's last year opened a department store in the East Sonora space vacated by the Gottschalks bankruptcy filing.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at 578-2385 or jholland@modbee.com.

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