By Maria Jose Subiria
Tomeka Barnes' work frequently takes her overseas.
When the Albany resident flies to Balad, Iraq, to work with the U.S. Marines' Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles program, she travels through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. When she gets to Iraq, she has trouble adjusting to the country's environment.
But after the opening of a number of new shops in Hartsfield-Jackson's atrium, Barnes was able to pick up something to help her cope before taking off on a recent trip.
"I've never seen this store before, and I am glad it's here, because once you check in, you're in and there's no way out," said Barnes, who was in the airport's new Drugs & More store recently. "I needed some NyQuil, because I get congested every time I go to Balad, Iraq, for work."
Drugs & More, located on the south side of the airport's atrium, is part of Hartsfield-Jackson's "retail renaissance" project, an effort to provide a better shopping experience for some 250,000 people who pass through the airport each day.
In all, 13 new stores are open throughout Hartsfield-Jackson. Seven of those are in the atrium. Airport officials say a total of 70 new shops are scheduled for completion by this summer.
Drugs & More, which includes an in-store AeroClinic, is one of four new stores opened recently by The Paradies Shops.
"Though we don't accept medical insurance, we provide medical care at a reasonable price," said Teresa Snider, a nurse practitioner for AeroClinic. "We serve employees and travelers, and take care of minor illnesses and injuries. And if you have a major illness, we send you to our other facility on the second floor at the atrium."
On Feb. 25, airport and store officials celebrated the addition of Drugs & More and The Paradies Shops' other new stores, Brighton Collectibles, Georgia Aquarium's Beyond the Reef and Brooks Brothers.
"It's been a dream of mine and my family for many years, so to be back in our hometown airport is a privilege," said Gregg Paradies, president and CEO of The Paradies Shops. "I would like to thank the City of Atlanta for this opportunity."
The Paradies Shops operates stores in 70 airports and hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Paradies said the company's first store was a toy store that opened at Atlanta's airport in 1960.
The Hartsfield-Jackson Brooks Brothers location is the company's 500th store.
Jim Miller, brand manager at Brooks Brothers for The Paradies Shops, said customers at the store are often in need of forgotten accessories. "Our most popular item in the store are collar stays," he said.
Department of Aviation Customer Service Supervisor Naomi Holder enjoys an occasional shopping trip to Brighton Collectibles, an upscale women's accessory store.
"I am a jewelry fanatic," said Holder.
John Cugasi, director of concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson, said he is proud of the new additions to the airport's array of shops.
The Paradies Shops plans 13 new stores in all.
The company opened its first new store in the airport, Newsbeat Atlanta, on Dec. 23 in Concourse A.
Other store operators involved in the retail renaissance include HMSHost Corp., which opened an Atlanta Magazine Home store last fall, and AREAS USA Inc.
For its work in the area of concessions, Hartsfield-Jackson won this year's Airport Revenue News award for Best Concessions Management Team in the category of large airports, according to airport spokeswoman Katena Carvajales.
The airport's first retail renaissance store opened last November.