Monday, February 20, 2017

Is Hobby Lobby coming to Rolla?

I've heard before that Hobby Lobby was coming to Rolla. I remember a few years ago, it was supposedly going in at the old Forum Plaza shopping center, in what was once the JCPenney store, followed by a Goody's store and finally, I think, a furniture store. That building has been torn down and a new, larger supermarket is there -- not a Hobby Lobby.
Early last week, I heard  from a pretty good source that Hobby Lobby was buying, or has bought, or is thinking about buying, the Kmart building. As I'm sure you've heard, Kmart is closing stores across the country.

I think this time, there is credence in the source's tip.

I don't have sufficient credible sourcing to submit a story to the editor of the local paper, but this being my personal blog, I don't feel I must have documentation. This is just a conversation between us. I'm just passing along what I heard, and you can make your own decision.

At the open house the city held last week about the blasting that will be going on for about four months to prepare the ground for the Westside Marketplace, I asked the developer about Hobby Lobby and why it was not going into that new shopping center.

He said Hobby Lobby likes to go into existing structures. "You mean like our Kmart building?" I said. He said, "That would be the kind of building they would look for, and I think your Kmart is either closed or going to be closed, so, yes, that would be a possibility."

He did not have any inside inforrmation about the veracity of the news tip I had received, but his description of the "fit" for the company and the soon-to-be-empty building added credence, as far as I was concerned.

Then just a little while ago, my wife said a friend told her that when she (the friend) went shopping at Kmart today, the check-out girl said, "Well, this place is going to become a Hobby Lobby."

That did it for me. Check-out girls know more than managers about business. I figured as soon as I heard it that the die is cast and we are going to have a Hobby Lobby in Rolla by late summer, early fall, definitely in time for Christmas shopping.

I'm not too thrilled by that. Hobby Lobby will harm at least two locally owned businesses that I can think of, maybe three, maybe even four or five.

But the push in Rolla is for chain-owned stores, not locally owned stores. That's the trend not only here, but in every Ozarks town, it seems. Rolla is a shadow of its former self, in terms of locally owned businesses that give a community character. But, I will also say that I work for a big-box chain store during the day, and I love it. Obviously, then, I am double-minded on this issue.

All I can offer is this: If we are going to get a Hobby Lobby, please continue to do business with the locally owned stores where your neighbors have invested in the commuunity, and pay taxes to support local services.




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