Hobby Lobby to hire 35-50 employees

BROOKSVILLE — A Hobby Lobby representative announced Wednesday the national retail chain has officially signed a lease to open a 55,000-square-foot store in the new Cortez Commons shopping center.

The crafts and home décor retailer will be one of several stores located on the southwest corner of Mariner Boulevard and State Road 50.

Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby has about 600 stores nationwide and 26 in Florida. The Brooksville store is projected to open later in 2014, bringing about 35 to 50 jobs, which pay $15 per hour for full-time and $10 per hour for part-time associates.

No fixed opening date has been set. Interviews for open positions will begin about five to six weeks before the store opens. Hobby Lobby will set up a local multi-day hiring event to interview candidates in person, according to Susan Bailey, the chain’s grand opening coordinator.

Dave Hamilton, operations manager with the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board, said he believes Hobby Lobby will be “over-run” with applicants, given the higher-than-average wages and the chain’s reputation of being a good employer.

The median wage for retail salespersons in Hernando and Pasco counties is $9.89 an hour, according to data released in January from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The median wage for cashiers is $9.13 an hour. The median for stockers and order fillers is $11.23.

Hamilton said Hobby Lobby’s higher wages could provide a more competitive market in this area and force other retailers to offer either higher salaries or other incentives to retain workers.

“If suddenly, all your folks are headed someplace else, you might have to figure out some way to compete,” Hamilton said.

Hobby Lobby was the first merchant to commit to locating at Cortez Commons. Bonefish Grill, Mattress Firm and Vitamin Shoppe have since announced they were coming to the location.

Others that have expressed interest but have not submitted plans to the building department include Longhorn Steakhouse, Bob Evans, Wawa, Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW Shoe Warehouse and ULTA.

“Each new Hobby Lobby location enables us to become an integral part of the community by contributing to increased foot traffic, generating sales tax, and adding new jobs, while sharing in the growth of both the state and the city,” John Schumacher, assistant vice president of advertising, said in a press release.

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