A new arts and craft retail store chain is looking for a home in the Tri-Cities.
Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby recently found a spot in Spokane Valley for a yet-to-open store and is actively searching for a location in the Tri-Cities.
"We are hoping to find a place soon. We would love to serve our customers in the area," said Vince Parker, director of training and customer service for the company, which operates about 450 stores in 37 states. The privately held company plans to open 25 to 30 stores this year.
Hobby Lobby offers a range of arts and crafts supplies including fabrics, yarns, jewelry making supplies, picture framing materials, floral items, cards and party, baskets, wearable art, home accents, science and education kits and holiday supplies.
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Hobby Lobby stores usually occupy 55,000 square-feet and employ 30 to 50 people, Parker said. Hobby Lobby competes with other two other chains, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores and Michaels Stores, he said. "Our customers think we are Michaels on steroids."
The downturn has helped Hobby Lobby, a financially sound company, to expand, he said. A lot of places have become affordable to lease, Parker said.
Hobby Lobby began operations in 1972, growing from a miniature picture frame company founded by David Green. Green and his family own and control the business that has grown enormously.
Hobby Lobby stores are closed Sundays because the business is run on Christian principles, Parker said.
Hobby Lobby headquarters are located in a 3.4 million-square-foot manufacturing, distribution and office complex in Oklahoma City. It also houses the corporate offices of its other affiliated companies including Hemispheres, a chain of fine furnishings and accessories stores, and Mardel, a chain of Christian and educational supply stores.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@ tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com