The parking lot at the corner of 21st and Prince, vacant since Kmart left Clovis, is now filling with cars of shoppers at the new Hobby Lobby store. CNJ staff photo: Darrell Todd Maurina.
Hobby Lobby Creative Center co-manager Roger Lusk said he was pleasantly surprised at the warm reception the new arts and crafts retail center enjoyed during its first full week of operation.
“We opened a little over a week ago, and it’s been very good,” he said. “Saturday, of course, has been our biggest day, but we’ve had constant traffic. People have been very positive. Several have told me that they’re not going to Amarillo or Lubbock anymore.”
Lusk said he thought over the course of the week, there would be a letdown.
“I thought it would drop off a little, but it’s been staying consistent,” he said. “Everybody’s been very happy so far.”
The seventh Hobby Lobby store in New Mexico, the arts and crafts center has employed approximately 50 people from the Clovis area, officials said.
Hobby Lobby, located in a remodeled building that formerly housed Big Kmart, is one of the latest in a string of major retail/restaurant chains either making a move or planning a move to the Clovis area.
Lowe’s may hire 150
Lowe’s Home Centers Inc. is progressing on its new store construction at the corner of Prince and Llano Estacado streets, behind the Golden Corral restaurant.
“We will send out a news release when the grand opening of the store is a little closer,” said Jennifer Stanbery, public relations spokeswoman for Lowe’s. “Everything is progressing well. We’re excited to be coming to the Clovis-Portales market there.”
The building will be approximately 135,000 square feet. Officials said a Lowe’s of this size normally employs 150 people.
The Clovis store will have a 94,000 square-foot-sales floor and will sell gardening supplies, raw lumber, plumbing, lighting and appliances.
The land deal was closed in April with Clovis developer Bill Giese.
Dollar Tree has 27,000 square feet
Giese also was instrumental in paving the way for Dollar Tree Stores Inc. to move into the former Heilig-Myers furniture building, 3901 N. Prince St.
The nation’s largest $1 discount variety store chain made its debut in the Clovis area in mid-August, said John Duval, store manager.
“The size of our new store in Clovis is 27,000 square feet,” said Cindee Bailey, promotions coordinator for Dollar Tree Stores Inc., based in Chesapeake, Va. “It is one of the larger Dollar Trees we will be operating.”
The Clovis store opened with 55 employees, but that number has dropped to 45 now, said Duval, who is from the Clovis area.
“I got to pick my assistants,” he said. “I picked up people who worked at Furr’s and Kmart. So we picked up people who are good at what they do and who will be here for the long term.”
Duval said he would be hiring approximately 15-18 additional people to help out during the upcoming holiday season.
“This has exceeded all expectations,” he said.
Bailey said Dollar Trees are “extremely popular” with the shopping public “because everybody likes a great bargain.”
“We sell great merchandise, not just junk, which you may think of when you think of a dollar store,” she said. “A Dollar Tree store distinguishes itself by its exceptional merchandise.”
Hastings looks for mid-November opening
One of the newest superstores to hit the Clovis area will be Hastings Entertainment, slated to set up shop with Hobby Lobby in the old Big Kmart building, 2001 N. Prince St.
“We anticipate the opening of the Clovis superstore to be in mid-November, certainly before the Thanksgiving holidays,” said Miea Levery, director of advertising for Hastings Entertainment Inc., based in Amarillo.
Approximately 50 full- and part-time associates are expected to be hired for the Clovis store, Levery said.
“We are currently hiring associates at the Department of Labor and at Clovis Community College,” she said. “Hiring will continue through the end of October.”
Potential hirees should contact Cindy Duncan at the Department of Labor and Johnny Smith at Clovis Community College, Levery said.
Hastings offers a wide array of entertainment and information products, with more than 30,000 book titles, more than 15,000 video tape and DVD titles for rent and sale, and thousands of CDs and cassettes. It guarantees discounts on book bestsellers, dozens of music titles and video rentals as low as .99 cents for five evenings.
Chili’s restaurant still on hold
There continues to be strong speculation that a Chili’s restaurant is headed to Clovis, possibly near Lowe’s Home Center on North Prince Street.
“Chili’s is on hold until the Lowe’s construction is completed, and everything is cleared out of the way,” Giese said in a previous interview. “I’ve been told it’s a done deal that Chili’s is coming here.”
Louis Adams, a public relations spokesman for Chili’s, said the restaurant chain is looking at the Clovis area.
“We have nine Chili’s in New Mexico,” he said. “We’re interested in the Clovis market, but we don’t have anything set as yet. We definitely are interested in Clovis — we just have no specific sites or dates yet.”
Groundwork started on Town & Country
Another new store headed for Clovis is a large Town & Country Food Store to be located on East Mabry Drive and Schepps Boulevard, city officials said.
“They’ve started the groundwork on it already, but they haven’t submitted the final paperwork,” said Tom Heap, city building inspector.
“We’re just now breaking ground on it right now,” said Dan McCurdy, director of communication at Town & Country Food Stores, based in San Angelo, Texas. “We’re doing fill work right now, and after it’s completed, we’ll be about 100 days out on completing construction. The store would open soon after that.”
The new store “will be a little larger than the ones presently in Clovis and Portales — about 3,900 to 4,000 square feet,” McCurdy said.
The new facility, which will dispense its own name brand gasoline and will provide two food services — a full-service restaurant, Country Cookin’, and a sandwich shop, Sub City — will hire 25 to 30 people to staff the store, McCurdy said.
“We’re real excited about this store,” he said. “We’re looking for real good things in this venture — it’s in a good location where there’s a lot of traffic. We’re looking forward to being there in Clovis.”
Fantasy Theater readies for construction
Clovis businessman Sam Snell said construction on his new, nine-screen, $3.5 million Fantasy Theater will begin soon.
“They started moving the equipment out there,” he said. “The contractor has already trucked down a load of equipment for its construction. We’ve sent plans to the state and the city. We’re just waiting for them to review those plans. The contractor is hoping to start building next month. Construction should take about five or six months for completion.”
The proposed movie theater will feature more than 1,600 high-back seats, and will be located on Wallace Street just behind the Roden-Smith Village, Snell said.
“It’s going to be a beautiful theater, great for the city,” he said. “From the research I’ve done on similar cities the size of Clovis, this theater will prosper. We plan to hire about 25 full-time employees, and a number of part-time employees.”
Planning & Zoning Committee officials have approved the 68-foot height of the proposed theater although it’s nearly twice the height allowed by city ordinance.
Ernie Kos, executive director of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, said she has been pleased with the growth of new business coming to the Clovis area.
“We welcome every single business and the subsequent jobs it creates in our community,” she said. “Clovis is definitely a city on the move. Success breeds success. We’ve got a lot of exciting things happening — we’ve had a dozen ribbon cuttings for new businesses developing in the area. The retail community is definitely developing.”