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Hobby Lobby crafts mega-store in East Wenatchee

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Joey Ackerman unpacks seasonal merchandise as he and other employees ready the Hobby Lobby store in East Wenatchee Tuesday for a soft opening on Friday.

EAST WENATCHEE — Opening Friday, the new Hobby Lobby here is a mega-craft store of mega proportions:

Nearly 51,000 square feet of sales space, about average for a Hobby Lobby but more than five times the size of the Wenatchee Valley’s next-largest craft store.

Over 130,000 items on opening day with that number likely to climb to 200,000.

More than 2,000 local job applicants for 75 positions needed to stock and open the store. When operating six days a week, the store will have 45 to 50 permanent employees, with about half of those full-time.

It’s a big store loaded with good stuff and good staff,” said Manager Bryan Cook. “We’re excited to get the doors open for business.”

Hobby Lobby has spent the last seven months crafting its new store in the old Top Foods grocery space on Grant Road near Fred Meyer. The East Wenatchee store is one of eight new outlets that the 514-store, $2.3 billion company will open by summer in locations across the country.

What: A new 51,000-square-foot craft and decor store

Where: 10 Grant Road, East Wenatchee, in the former Top Foods grocery store

When: The store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. It opens at 9 a.m. Friday for a soft opening, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony kicking off its grand opening at 9 a.m. Monday.

Notable: Free classroom space is offered to craft instructors to host how-to courses. Contact a store manager for details.

Info: 886-5382, or visit hobbylobby.com

With little fanfare, Hobby Lobby will open Friday “to make sure all systems and processes are working,” said Cook. All 13 departments — floral to fabrics to furnishings — will be fully stocked with staff trained and ready to help customers, he said.

On Monday, a more formal grand opening will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony with local civic and company officials, including a visit by Hobby Lobby’s corporate chaplain who’ll lead employees and customers in a store prayer.

The chaplain’s visit is part of Hobby Lobby’s corporate expression of Christian values, said Assistant Manager Amanda Salsbury, who’s settled in East Wenatchee after helping set up five other stores in western states. All Hobby Lobby stores close on Sundays, play Christian instrumental music and feature dozens of Christian-themed items, including a variety of crosses and wall-hangings with inscriptions from the Bible.

For most customers, though, the store’s main attraction is the gear to fulfill just about any creative urge — from painting a landscape, building a model airplane, arranging a bouquet or decorating the den.

A stroll down the aisles reveals rows of scented candles, gift wraps and bows, lamps, welcome mats, picture frames, model cars, toy train sets, backyard rockets, baskets, fabrics, skeins of wool and a knick-knack inventory so deep that there’s room for a five-shelf section of carved African-style elephants.

One of the store’s largest departments — seasonal items — is packed now with Easter decorations that includes bunnies of every shape and form (plush, wooden, ceramic), colorful plastic and wooden eggs in many sizes, a few Jesus figurines and many crosses.

We stock seasonal items for every holiday,” said Cook. “Our Christmas items will begin arriving in June and, by July, we should be stocked up 100 percent for the Christmas season. It’s a big time of year for us.”

Lucas Hartsell, the store’s co-manager and second in command, has spent nine years in Wenatchee Valley retail management at stores like Hastings Books & Music and Bed Bath & Beyond.

This is a great company that offers its employees lots of training and support — all with an emphasis on supplying great customer service,” he said. “We don’t just offer thousands of items. We also offer ideas and know-how on how to use them.”

Mike Irwin: 665-1179

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.

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