New home for Hobby Lobby

Huge retailer Hobby Lobby is expanding to Morgan Hill, with an August 2012 opening planned.

Hobby Lobby, a 77,000-square-foot retail paradise for crafters, artists, scrapbookers, decorators, photographers and lots of other types of hobbyists, will open its new location in Morgan Hill in August.

The new store will move into the space that was occupied until 2008 by Mervyns at Cochrane Plaza on Cochrane Road.

Hobby Lobby is a privately held national retail chain based in Oklahoma City, Okla. The company, which was founded in a garage in 1970 as a picture-framing business, has about 500 stores nationwide which average about 55,000-square-feet in size, according to company spokesman Vincent Parker.

The company has bucked retail trends set throughout the country the last two years by expanding at a rapid pace, according to a press release from Hobby Lobby.

The retail hobby store supplies markets in Morgan Hill and in Stockton – where another new Hobby Lobby is scheduled to open this summer.

“We feel that the market is underserved and that we can bring a very unique shopping experience to the area,” Parker said. “We are looking forward to becoming part of the community.”

The store offers about 65,000 crafting and home decor products. Departments include floral, fabric, needlework, picture framing, baskets, home accents, arts and crafts, wearable art, jewelry and scrapbooking supplies.

The store made about $2 billion in sales in 2008, the latest year for which data is available on the Hobby Lobby website.

The new store in Morgan Hill will open up 35 to 50 new jobs, paying $13 an hour for full-time positions and $9 an hour for part-timers, Parker said. The company will begin recruiting in Morgan Hill and surrounding areas when the store is closer to opening.

City Hall isn’t expecting a major boost in sales tax revenues when the store opens, but Mayor Steve Tate noted that “every little bit helps.”

In 2011, the city collected about $1.1 million in “general retail” sales tax revenues, according to city staff. That category includes non-grocery merchandise sold by stores like Target, Walmart, and smaller, independently owned businesses.

He added that filling the cavernous space formerly occupied by Mervyns is perhaps a bigger step for the city. Attracting a new tenant has been part of the city’s economic development strategy since Mervyns declared bankruptcy in 2008.

Beth Wyman, who was shopping at the Jo-Ann craft store at Tennant Station in Morgan Hill for fabric Friday, said her grandchildren will probably shop at Hobby Lobby. The teenagers are now interested in “digital stuff on the computer,” and when they were younger played with toys and “doo-dads” that required assembly.

Wyman, a Morgan Hill resident, said she shops at the local Jo-Ann store “a couple times a month,” mainly to pick up yarn, knitting supplies, thread to repair torn clothing, and crocheting supplies.

Another customer at Jo-Ann Friday, Michawn Giovannoni of Morgan Hill, said she will probably not shop at Hobby Lobby because it’s on the opposite side of town from where she lives. Plus, she feels that Jo-Ann is a “more local” store.

“I would rather keep putting money in this store,” said Giovannoni, who crochets and buys fabric and yarn at Jo-Ann.

And while Hope Nunez, of Morgan Hill, is recently retired and “just beginning with craft things,” she said she would consider shopping at the new hobby supplies superstore.

Nunez has been considering taking up jewelry-making, painting and other art forms since she retired.

Shopping at Hobby Lobby might give Nunez even more options, as the store claims to have “the widest variety of crafting supplies you will find in one location,” according to a press release from the company.

Hobby Lobby also has its own manufacturing facilities in Oklahoma City (though not all the store’s merchandise is manufactured in the United States).

The chain has grown rapidly the last two years, according to Parker. In 2010, Hobby Lobby opened 26 new stores, and in 2011 opened 33 new stores. Before the end of 2012, they hope to open 34 stores this year.

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