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Hobby Lobby

National Chain Makes Its Oregon Debut at Heritage Mall.

June 4, 2014 — The wait is almost over. On Thursday, the doors will open at the west end of Heritage Mall, and Hobby Lobby will greet Oregon customers for the first time.

The popular national chain will occupy space that has been closed since 2009, when Gottschalk’s went out of business. Now the craft and home decor store will fill that huge vacancy, plus the former Old Navy site — Old Navy moved inside the mall — with 62,000 square feet of inventory.

“There is a lot of draw in this area,” said Steve Bock, who along with Rick Mitchell will be managing the massive store. “It’s a little bigger than most Hobby Lobby stores.”

The gigantic store is making its first venture into the state, becoming one of nearly 600 Hobby Lobbys across the nation.

“The West Coast stores have proven to be popular, and this is a great opportunity for us,” said Mitchell, who spent 14 years at Hobby Lobby in Texas.

According to Betsy Penson, mall manager, having a store like Hobby Lobby will benefit the entire area.

“It will attract shoppers from outside the area and give those who may not have been to the mall in a while a reason to come and see the changes here,” Penson said. “We have been receiving calls daily asking when the opening will be.”

Penson said groups are planning trips from the Oregon Coast, Roseburg, Bend and Portland.

“Just this morning a caller from Medford said they are renting three cars to bring a group up,” Penson said.

It speaks to the popularity of the Oklahoma City-based store. That doesn’t surprise Mitchell.

“Everything you could want for home and crafters is here,” he said.

Trucks have been moving in the vast inventory for the last two weeks. The final shipment before opening is expected today. When it’s full, more than a half-million items will stock the shelves.

Included will be crafts, fabrics, jewelry supplies, floral, home accent furnishings, scrapbooking material and much more.

Bock, who was a manager at the Albany Home Depot prior to coming to Hobby Lobby, said everything will be ready by the opening.

“We have been taking things from the trucks directly to the shelves,” he said.

The store will employ 65 people to start. The group has impressed the managers.

“It’s an excellent crew. We asked for the best of the best and they have proved themselves,” Mitchell said.

The excitement generated by the new store has been felt throughout the mall.

“I have not experienced so much anticipation and excitement for an opening before, let alone the opening of a store that doesn’t have a presence in the state yet,” Penson said.

The entire mall community will benefit, according to Penson. She noted that having a strong anchor in a spot that has been vacant at one end of the mall will improve traffic throughout.

“The merchants recognize this,” Penson said. “They are excited that we have attracted an Oregon first (for Hobby Lobby) and recognize the ongoing impact such a strong, exclusive, national retailer will have.”

Bock said everyone at the store is equally excited. Doors open at 9 a.m. Thursday and an official grand opening will be held Monday, also at 9 a.m. It will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony, dignitaries and refreshments.