Socorro Mendoza takes her granddaughters Mackela Martinez, 2 1/2 years old, and 6-week-old Lexy Martinez shopping during the grand opening of Marshalls, Thursday morning. (Mark Wilson Pho to)
It may be the best thing to happen to Roswell since 1947.
A Marshalls retail store opened at the Roswell Mall Thursday, after about a year of anticipation.
John Maldonado is the district manager of 15 Marshalls stores located across Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Missouri.
He described the reaction of eager Roswellians he had met during the lead up to the grand opening of the 25,000 square foot location that offers brand name products at a 40 to 60 percent discount off regular prices.
“If you went to a restaurant, if you were just wearing your lanyard, ‘Oh my god, you work for Marshalls,’ ” he said.
The excitement was palpable as shoppers streamed through the store’s front doors, gathering raffle tickets to win one of twenty $50 giftcards, and complementary reusable shopping bags as they entered.
At 8:30 a.m., just 30 minutes after doors opened, Marshalls staff estimated that there were at least 350 people browsing merchandise.
Some of the christeners had arrived as early as 6 a.m. awaiting the beginning of the shopping extravaganza, according to Angy Cooper, the mall’s general manager. Maldonado said Marshalls had hired two people from the store’s internal loss prevention department to work security overnight Wednesday in case customers had decided to camp out.
Most shoppers on Thursday were women, and many brought their children.
Jill Jameson, 35, came with her 2-year-old daughter Liv. She said her daughter was eager to see the new store.
“On the way here, she said, ‘I wanna go shopping!”
Some customers came as families. Gloria Ramos, 55, who takes care of her grandchildren at home, came with five family members including her sister, children, and grandchildren. She said everyone wanted to come.
The new store has 63 employees. According to Maldonado, nine of the newly hired are managers, and the rest work as cashiers, sales representatives, dressing room attendants and in shipping and receiving. He estimated that about 22 percent of the employees work full time, and the rest work part time. He said he expects some turnover and that the store is “always hiring.”
Romo Villegas, president of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, was present at the grand opening. He said he hopes the new store willstimulate the local economy and motivate people to shop locally as well.
“It creates a buzz around town, and it creates the very basic things we really need,” he said, such as jobs and economic growth.
On average, each Marshalls store produces $8.2 million a year in sales, according to Maldonado.
He went on to say that the location in Roswell is part of a new strategy of expansion for Marshalls Inc. The chain plans to add 1,000 new stores within the next 10 years, and is focused on expanding into smaller markets such as that of Roswell.
The mall’s general manager, Cooper, commented that Roswell was a smart choice in part because “everything is 200 miles away from here.”
In addition to providing economic stimulus, Marshalls is already involved in the community. The Roswell store has established a partnership with Roswell-based Harvest Ministries to aid in the organization’s charitable endeavors. On Thursday, the store awarded Harvest Ministries a check of $5,000.
Mayor Del Jurney told the Record he is optimistic about the future of the store.
“We appreciate their investment in our community and we just know they’re going to do extremely well,” he said.