Hobby Lobby up and running

Officially, the new Hobby Lobby in Duluth opens at 9 a.m. Monday in the old Miller Hill Kmart space.

Unofficially, it quietly opened Thursday to allow its new staff to become acclimated to their jobs before crowds of customers arrived.

On Saturday evening, however, there was a crowd. Although the parking lot lights weren’t on, the store was aglow with plenty of people coming and going. So I stopped in to check it out.

It’s a nice store, with an extensive home decor and storage section that I lingered in for quite a while. Fun stuff with prices already 30 percent off. And the scrapbooking section made me want to start scrapbooking. Other than that, there’s the usual floral, hobby, fabric, frames, art and craft items that you would expect in a leading arts and crafts store.

By the reaction of the customers, I’d say they were liking it, too.

On Monday, the store will hold its grand opening celebration with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will see local officials, business people and chamber of commerce ambassadors.

Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma City, has more than 520 stores and is the No.3 arts and craft retailer in the country. The chain had looked for a suitable location in Duluth for years before the Kmart site at Mall Drive and Maple Grove Road, near Miller Hill Mall, became available last year. It’s Hobby Lobby third store in Minnesota.

“We are very pleased to become an integral part of the Duluth community by adding new jobs, revitalizing an empty facility, and providing exceptional selection, service and value in the crafts and home decor market — all of which enables us to share in the economic growth of both the community and the stae,” John Schumacher, the chain’s assistant vice president of advertising said in a statement.

In Duluth, under store manager Ben Horst, it’ll be competition for the Michaels Arts and Crafts at the nearby Stoneridge Shopping Center.

Hobby Lobby store hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday but closed on Sundays.