By Valerie Baldowski
Hobby Lobby held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, to mark its official opening in McDonough.
For Henry County business leaders, and at least two of the store's new employees, the opening was an occasion to celebrate.
Joni Hunnicutt, of McDonough, had been searching for a job for 13 months before learning the McDonough Hobby Lobby was hiring. She said she was shocked to learn she would be hired.
"It was surreal, because I'd been out for so long," Hunnicutt said. "It was exciting, because it's a Christian company. Suddenly, after 13 months off, faith has a new meaning for me."
A musician by training, Hunnicutt said her new job allows her to use her creative talents.
"The fact is that [Store Manager Joe Guerra] hired me in a field that I love, which is the creative arts, in an atmosphere where I feel I would love," Hunnicutt said. "It's fun every day."
Her job requires her to work in the store's seasonal area with the Christmas merchandise, but she also expects to be cross-trained as a cashier.
"Joe's trying us all out in different areas," said Hunnicutt.
Tony Bartlett, who works in the arts and hobbies department, had been out of work for five months, and said he was determined to land a job when he learned the McDonough Hobby Lobby was interviewing applicants.
"I actually waited in line for five hours to get a job interview and fill out an application," said Bartlett, 32.
Before working at Hobby Lobby, he worked for a heating and air supply company for four months, but was laid off.
Bartlett said he was glad to have found work. "I was very fortunate to find this one so fast," he added.
The 55,000-square-foot store is the latest addition to South Point, a commercial development located along Ga. Highway 20, near Interstate 75.
Opening-week sales at the McDonough store surpassed opening-week sales at the Mall of Georgia's Hobby Lobby, said Kay Pippin, president of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
The McDonough store has been open since Nov. 3, according to Jim Baker, who is developing the South Point property.
The store immediately drew eager shoppers when it opened its doors, Baker said. "People just started flocking in," he said. "The sales have been incredible. It's been overwhelming and shocking for me to see just how crowded the store is. It's a good thing."
To raise the level of excitement around the store's opening activities, representatives from the radio station 104.7 The Fish set up a tent on the sidewalk in front of the store and gave out Hobby Lobby gift certificates.
Judy Cobb, of Hampton, was browsing the selection of picture frames. She said it was her first time shopping at Hobby Lobby.
"When I saw they had opened one in this area, I wanted to check it out," she said. "I was amazed. I had no idea it was this big."