Update, 1:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5: The Fresno Hobby Lobby is open. The store opened early with a soft opening Friday, Aug. 5. The grand opening event is still scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday.
The Hobby Lobby grand opening at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8, could be the most anticipated store opening in Fresno this year.
The craft and home decor store’s first location in Fresno has its fans giddy with anticipation. Already 1,500 people have said that they’re going to the grand opening on the store’s event page on Facebook (they won’t all show up, but it gives you a feel for the excitement). Anything I write about Hobby Lobby gets tons of hits on The Bee’s website, even weeks or months after it was published.
To explain what all the fuss is about and give you some insider tips on how to score deals, I paired my knowledge from 10 years as a retail reporter with the expertise of Hobby Lobby die-hards Valerie McElroy of Clovis and Janice Keith of Fresno.
It’s like Jo-Anns and HomeGoods had a baby and that baby was amazing.
Janice Keith of Clovis
Why are people so worked up?
Hobby Lobby has had stores in Visalia, Hanford – even Merced and Los Banos – for a while, leaving Fresnans frustrated as to why the biggest city in the area didn’t have one for so long.
Even the corporate folks are a little excited about this store because it is the Oklahoma City-based company’s 700th store.
The new store is at 6565 N. Blackstone Ave., halfway between Herndon and Sierra avenues. The former Fashion Furniture Outlet Showroom was torn down to make room for the new store.
Many Fresno-area shoppers would regularly drive to Visalia or Hanford to visit Hobby Lobby. McElroy was driving down every month while working on a big project for her church and Keith, who teaches craft classes at Nola Love in Clovis, used to plan whole days around a trip to the store.
How crazy will the opening be?
The official grand opening is 9 a.m. Monday with a ribbon cutting, dignitaries speaking, food and other typical grand opening hubbub. Shoppers attending will get a 40% off coupon (we’ll tell you a way to get the discount without the crowds in a bit).
Shoppers usually line up for Hobby Lobby grand openings and with the excitement over this one, there’s bound to be a crowd.
“I can’t wait,” Keith says. “I would love to say I’m going to be one of the first people there, but I’m scared of the other die-hards.”
There may be a chance customers can shop before the crowds, however. The communications coordinator told me that “if everything is ready, the store will most likely” have a soft opening Friday or Saturday. Sometimes stores don’t advertise these soft openings because it’s a chance for companies to work out the kinks before the crowds come, so you might just have to swing by to see if it’s open.
Isn’t it just another craft store? So what?
But Hobby Lobby stores are huge compared to their competitors. The Fresno store is 53,000 square feet – nearly three times the size of the new Jo-Anns in Clovis and more than triple the average sales floor space of Michaels.
My husband is like, ‘What more can you possibly buy?
Valerie McElroy of Clovis, about her trips to Hobby Lobby
The biggest difference in what it sells is Hobby Lobby’s large home decor department.
“When I first went there I thought it was a craft store and when I realized there was home decor too… It’s like Jo-Anns and HomeGoods had a baby and that baby was amazing,” says Keith.
The home decor department takes up a good chunk of the store. There are sofa tables and accent chairs, lamps, drawer pulls and the large mirrors often found at hardware stores.
“When we were building our home, I actually purchased a couple of our big bathroom mirrors at Hobby Lobby,” McElroy says.
Some of the wall decor is designed to appeal to men and boys too, with Tom Brady posters and vintage-looking auto signs. All kinds of movie and comic book images are for sale, from Captain America to Doctor Who.
Some aisles have coordinated collections of decor, such as pink princess-themed decor for a little girl’s bedroom, complete with a “no boys allowed” sign.
33Number of Hobby Lobby stores in California
And of course there’s the traditional sections: Fabric and yarn, scrapbooking, cake decorating and a large artificial flower and greenery section.
It also has what is sure to be the biggest seasonal section in town. The Hanford store already has 11 – yes, 11 – aisles of Christmas items. That includes full-size artificial Christmas trees.
“It’s July, but people buy it,” and it will be half gone by October or November, McElroy says.
Another five or six aisles hold fall and Halloween items.
How do I get a deal?
Hobby Lobby tends to have sales on the same items every other week, McElroy says.
“If the candles aren’t on sale this week, you know they’re going to be on sale the following week.”
And that 40 percent off coupon they’re giving away at the grand opening? You can get that other ways if you want to avoid the crowd.
First, look in your Sunday paper for the Hobby Lobby ad (yes, shameless promotion here).
You can also print a 40 percent off coupon from Hobby Lobby’s website or download the Hobby Lobby app on your smartphone and show the coupon to the cashier.
What’s this about Hobby Lobby and Christianity?
Hobby Lobby is a privately held company and the family who runs it are Christians. They operate the stores in line with their Christian beliefs. The website says they are committed to “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”
That’s why Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sundays, “to allow our employees and customers more time for worship and family,” according to its website.
The stores also close earlier than most chains, at 8 p.m. each day.
Shoppers will also find a healthy selection of items with a religious emphasis, such as signs that say “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “#PrayItForward.”
McElroy also points out that the stores play instrumental Christian music, though many people (like me) don’t notice it.
Why are some people angry at Hobby Lobby?
Some people find Hobby Lobby’s overt Christianity distasteful.
Others are upset at a 2014 Supreme Court ruling involving Hobby Lobby and birth control.
The company sued after the government required it to provide health insurance plans with birth control that Hobby Lobby said violated its Christian beliefs. The court ruled in the company’s favor.
What about the workers?
The store brings between 35 and 50 jobs. It pays $15.35 per hour for full-time workers and $10.23 per hour for part-timers.