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Hobby Lobby begins crafting new store

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EAST WENATCHEE — The cutting, stitching, gluing, framing, painting and maybe even some scrapbooking has begun as construction of the region’s first craft mega-store got underway here last month.

Representatives of Hobby Lobby, the $2.3 billion chain of arts and crafts stores, were readying the former Top Foods grocery store for a five-month transformation into North Central Washington’s largest outlet of craft supplies, fashion fabrics, party supplies, furniture, candies and tens of thousands of seasonal craft items.

We feel the local market is underserved in many ways,” said Vince Parker, a spokesman for the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby. “We’re confident we can bring a very unique shopping experience to the Wenatchee area. We’re looking forward to becoming part of the community.”

Scheduled to open in the spring, Parker said the company hopes to hire up to 50 local employees in various positions, including cashiers, stockers, picture framers, floral designers, department heads and managers. Pay for full-time employees starts at $13 an hour and $9 for part-time workers.

Hobby Lobby’s move into East Wenatchee had to be one of the year’s worst-kept business secrets. In August, the company filed detailed plans with the city’s planning department that showed the 63,733-square-foot building at 10 Grant Road, across from Fred Meyer, would have a Hobby Lobby sales floor of 52,300 square feet and 7,159 square feet of storage, with the rest used mostly for office space.

(Craft Warehouse at Valley North Center in Wenatchee is about 10,000 square feet.)

Also in August, construction crews spruced-up the exterior of the former Top Foods building and confirmed rumors of the craft store’s interest in the location. In October, Hobby Lobby twice posted an online help-wanted ad (careerbuilder.com) for co-managers for the new store.

Hobby Lobby opened in 1972 in as a mini-picture frame company. It now has 514 stores in 41 states with more than 21,000 employees. The company is set to open 30 stores this year, according to Parker.

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