MILLEDGEVILLE — In recent months, North Columbia Street business openings by Petsense, LongHorn Steakhouse, Firehouse Subs, Hibachi Express and Hillcrest Urgent Care signify positive Milledgeville momentum.
City manager Barry Jarrett also confirmed Wednesday Kroger’s old storefront is vacant no longer. Hobby Lobby will fill the void left in Fall 2011.
“We were informed that Hobby Lobby has finally gotten their lease straight, and they are locating at the old Kroger storefront,” Jarrett said. “They are planning for an aggressive September opening.”
An estimated 20 to 30 jobs are a much-needed byproduct.
With this department store news, Jarrett hopes the traffic returns to all merchants.
“That area was hit very bad. Kroger itself brought a certain amount of traffic,” the city manager said. “Those merchants were really disappointed when Kroger moved out. Hopefully, it’s going to start bringing that traffic back there.”
Remaining shopping center operators like 1st Franklin Financial manager Christine Farrelly said morale dipped for the smaller businesses once Kroger moved north.
“The parking lot is completely dead. It’s an eyesore to see an empty building,” she said. “Without a main focus to draw your attention to this shopping center, you don’t really know what smaller businesses are within it.”
According to Hobby Lobby’s website, stores carry more than 60,000 products in 13 departments such as crafts, frames, fabric, jewelry, arts and hobbies. Hobby Lobby’s super selection fulfills crafts, home décor and gift ideas.
Farrelly is pumped for the incoming business.
“The best part about Hobby Lobby coming here is that we will actually have a craft store. We have to drive to Warner Robins to find the closest Hobby Lobby and even Michaels is in Macon. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to have convenience, where we don’t have to go out of town,” Farrelly said.