Hope Mills, North Carolina, population 16,024. Just 28 miles from the gates of Fort Bragg, one of the world’s largest military populations. This eastern North Carolina town just added a new distinction – home of the newest store in the Lowe’s chain.
Located at 3080 North Main St., the store has 104,000 square feet of retail space brimming with more than 30,000 new products and, just in time for spring, an adjacent garden center overflowing with plants, trees and shrubs selected especially for the North Carolina climate.
The opening of a new store like Hope Mills is years in the making. Just like homeowners looking for the perfect house, Lowe’s spends time evaluating, planning, negotiating, contracting and constructing.
First, Lowe’s real estate team is researching and evaluating potential locations. It’s a process that can take a year or two. There are literally hundreds of factors considered. Some, like homeownership in the area, population and growth in the community help Lowe’s understand if a community can support a new store. Other factors like access to major roadways and ways of getting into and out of a parking lot are focused on the ability of trucks delivering or shipping products to get to the store and the convenience of customers traveling to the store.
After identifying a location, Lowe’s begins step two – property acquisition and permitting. The real estate process can sometimes be complicated and buying or leasing property could take six months to two years. Once Lowe’s closes on property, store construction begins. It takes about nine months start to finish, provided Mother Nature cooperates and brings good weather.
With walls up, hiring and training employees begins. A new store could create an average of 125-150 new jobs, the majority of which are full time. The Hope Mills store brought 150 jobs to the community, providing employment opportunities for the area, which includes Fort Bragg.
“Many of our employees are connected to Fort Bragg,” said Ashley Bond, human resources manager at the store. “Many are veterans, military spouses or sons or daughters of soldiers.”
Excitement typically builds when, about six weeks before doors open, racks and shelves arrive and are filled with home improvement necessities, ranging from appliances to zip ties.
Finally, the day of the grand opening, town officials and store employees gather for Lowe’s equivalent of a ribbon cutting, sawing a board in half to signal the doors are officially open for business.
Mayor Jackie Warner, who had the honor of sawing the board in Hope Mills, said Lowe’s newest store will be a boon to the local economy because it will help keep the local residents, and their dollars, at home in Hope Mills.
The store is part of $3.6 billion in capital investments Lowe’s will be making over the next three years. During that time, Lowe’s expects to add about 4,000 store-level jobs, building on the 23,000 U.S. jobs the company has created in the past five years.
To celebrate the Hope Mills store opening and further invest in the community, Lowe’s also contributed a $2,500 grant to a worthy improvement project – a much needed playground for children.
“We try to maintain that friendly small-town environment,” Mayor Warner said, “and I think Lowe’s is going to add to that.”