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Statesboro Crossing stores opening in stages
Hobby Lobby now open; 6 others to open over next two weeks
100308 BIZ STATESBORO Web 2
Sharinda Williams stocks bird cages at PETCO Friday as the store prepares for its opening this week at Statesboro Crossing. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

 

            The wait for Statesboro shoppers is nearly over as seven stores in the Statesboro Crossing retail shopping development are poised to open in the next two weeks. Located at the corner of Brannen Street and the Veterans Memorial Parkway, Statesboro Crossing is the largest retail development constructed in Statesboro since the Statesboro Mall was built in the early 1970's.

            With no public announcement, Hobby Lobby opened its doors for business almost two weeks ago becoming the first tenant to officially welcome the public into Statesboro Crossing. Since opening, Hobby Lobby's business has been brisk, exceeding sales expectations set by the company.

            "Even though we did a 'soft' opening, we have had an excellent response from the community," said Bob Templeton, manager of the Statesboro Hobby Lobby. "It has been through word-of-mouth that people know that we have opened. However, our grand opening is scheduled for October 6, and we really hope that everyone will come out and take advantage of the sale that we will be having. This is a great community, and we are so glad to be here."

            Other stores slated to open in the next few days include Petco, T. J. Maxx, Books-A-Million, Rack Room Shoes, Avon, and Hibbitt Sports. Petco manager Robert Vance said the interest has been overwhelming.

            "We have had an incredible response in two different areas," Vance said. "First, customers have been driving up and just looking in the window or knocking on the door and asking when we plan to open. Secondly, we had over 1,000 job applications submitted. That is an unbelievable number. From that many applications, we have been able to put together a super staff."

            Vance said the grand opening of Petco is scheduled for Oct. 17, but as with a lot of large, national stores, soft openings are preferred so that the store staff is able to work out the kinks before the large crowds come to shop.

            "Officially, we will be open on (Oct. 16), but, we may open a few days earlier, it just depends," he said. "There is a lot that still needs to be done."

            Local residents Don and Jean Coleman clearly enjoyed their first trip to Hobby Lobby.

"This is such a nice store," Jean Coleman said. "It has so many different things in it, and it is really well laid out. The staff is so nice and helpful."

            "Maybe this will bring some competition into the market, and some of the other stores will clean up their act," Don Coleman said. "It is so nice and pleasant."

            Even though more than half of the development is leased, a number of smaller spaces remain. Alan Lloyd of CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. (NYSE: CBL) serves as the leasing agent for the property. Lloyd said interest in the project has remained steady.

            "People ask me how leasing is going at Statesboro Crossing," he said. "I tell them that frankly it is one of the easier properties that I have to lease right now. We felt Statesboro was an underserved market, and still do. We continue to have a tremendous amount of interest from retailers, and I feel like it will be leased out in a reasonable amount of time."

            Other retailers that have announced firm opening dates are T. J. Maxx on Oct. 12 and Avon on Oct. 16. The remaining retailers are expected to open in or near that time frame as well.