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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Marshalls comes to town
People line up Thursday outside the new Marshalls store at Liberty Fair Mall. The store’s grand opening drew about 2,000 people before noon, said store officials. Before the opening in Martinsville, the closest Marshalls had been in Danville. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Thousands of people attended the grand opening Thursday of the new Marshalls department store at Liberty Fair Mall in Martinsville.
The store did not take an official customer count, but based on numbers of raffle tickets handed out to people entering the store, employees estimated at least 2,000 people had passed through the doors as of noon.
At least 600 people were waiting in line when the store opened at 8 a.m., said Store Manager Sara Thomas.
“We had thousands” throughout the day, Thomas said.
The company had “high expectations” for the opening day, but the crowd was larger than anticipated, she said.
Some of the first customers told the Martinsville Bulletin they arrived as early as 5:30 a.m.
Two women from Danville who attended the grand opening, Teresa Adams and Carolyn Bethel, said they like the new Martinsville store better than the one at the Coleman Marketplace shopping center in Danville.
That store had been the closest Marshalls to Martinsville.
“There’s a whole lot more (merchandise) up here,” Adams said.
Bethel added that she thinks the Martinsville store has excellent customer service.
Marshalls has more than 900 stores nationwide and is an off-price retailer. Such store chains buy products in bulk at costs below wholesale and charge prices less than those of general retailers. The stores usually do not return unsold items to vendors, according to information on retail websites.
Martinsville-Henry County is “a community that needed a store like this,” Thomas said, because of economic constraints that mean many area residents have limited money to spend.
Thomas previously was an assistant manager at the Marshalls in Roanoke. She said that at both the Roanoke and Danville stores, customers from the Martinsville area frequently asked for the chain to open a store here.
Yet a lot of the Martinsville store’s customers on Thursday said they never had visited a Marshalls before, Thomas said.
Ultimately, she expects the store will be successful because “we don’t have a lot of competition” in the Martinsville area, she said.
The store has approximately 60 employees, company officials said.
At the mall, a 24,000-square-foot space next to Kroger was remodeled for Marshalls. Past tenants of the space included a furniture store and a Goody’s Family Clothing store that closed in 2009 when the chain was liquidated.
Shoppers can expect to see different items for sale at Marshalls regularly. A company release stated that more than 10,000 new items will be sent to the Martinsville store each week.
The store’s departments include women’s and men’s clothing, Shoe Mega Shop, THE CUBE (a fashion boutique), juniors, children’s, accessories, home, luggage and beauty items.
Non-clothing items on the shelves Thursday included kitchenware such as pots, pans, dishes and glassware as well as gourmet-style foods and drinks, pet supplies, pillows, bedspreads, lighting fixtures, bathroom mats, shower curtains, hair care products, toys and furniture.
The store has a blue and white interior. Blue departmental signs with white lettering hang from the warehouse-style metal ceiling. Shelves and fixtures in the housewares section resemble the decor of a country farmhouse.
Patsy Matthews of Snow Creek said “the set-up in this one is much nicer” than other Marshalls stores she has visited.
The store has two sizes of shopping carts — large ones with a single deep basket and smaller ones with two shallow baskets.
But it was hard to find a cart on Thursday due to the crowd. Some customers had to wait until others quit shopping to get a cart.
Pam Hanson of Bassett said she was pleased with what seemed to be an extensive selection of merchandise in the store.
Laughing, she said, “I don’t know how long it will stay that way” due to the large crowd.
Although the grand opening began at 8 a.m., regular opening hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
The grand opening featured a ribbon-cutting, a raffle, gift card giveaways, a disc jockey, temporary tattoos and a “bouncy house” for visiting children, and a visit by “Mo,” the mascot of the Martinsville Mustangs baseball team.
Martinsville Fire Department employees were there, displaying their newest fire truck and handing out fire safety brochures.
Thomas said the store handed out free Marshalls shopping bags and chicken biscuits donated by Chick-fil-A to the first 500 customers to enter.
Marshalls is Liberty Fair’s newest anchor tenant. The store’s arrival coincides with efforts by the mall’s owner, the Hull Storey Gibson Companies, to revamp the shopping complex.
Coles Hull, a Hull Storey Gibson marketing analyst who is the firm’s contact person for Liberty Fair, did not return a phone call for comment on Marshalls’ arrival.