Greater Oklahoma City is in the geographic center of North America equidistant from the east and west coasts and major trade partners of Canada and Mexico. The ten county region is at the crossroads of the U.S., sitting at the heart of three major national highways on the NAFTA corridor.
There's a reason Greater Oklahoma City is such a great place for business: Location. The ten county region is positioned within a day's drive of the rapidly-growing south-central region (OK, TX, AR, LA) projected to grow more than 44% during the next 25 years.
Hobby Lobby is on track to open 25 new stores this year around the country, and will begin work this summer on construction of a new store in Moore.
The Oklahoma City-based chain of arts and craft stores, owned by David Green, has stayed on course in its expansion plans despite the national recession that has hurt many retailers.
"Our same-store sales are up mid-single digits," said Scott Nelson, assistant vice president of real estate with Hobby Lobby. "We're just not seeing the effects of the economy at this point."
Nelson said the company continues to open 25 to 30 stores per year.
"This year is no different," he said.
The new 55,000-square-foot Hobby Lobby will be built at the Shops at Moore at Interstate 35 and S. 19th Street. Nelson said about 50 to 60 percent of the stores are new construction and the others backfill vacant spaces.
There are 19 Hobby Lobby stores in Oklahoma. The new store is the only one on the drawing board for Oklahoma and is expected to open in the first quarter of 2010, but Nelson said Hobby Lobby still has its sights on further expansion in Oklahoma and company officials are considering a store in Shawnee.
The next-closest Hobby Lobby is at 9118 S. Western Ave. Nelson said that store will remain open and the company will look at the practicality of having two stores in close proximity.
Despite growing retail vacancies, the tenant mix at the Shops at Moore has not been touched by closures.
But even as the center has held its tenants, and will add Hobby Lobby and three smaller stores early next year, owner Burk Collins is not expecting much more activity until market conditions improve and lenders are willing to provide money for brands to expand.
Collins said Hobby Lobby and the three smaller stores will fill a vital gap to connect a JCPenney store with Best Buy.
Collins has built a tenant mix of national brands in Moore including Ross Dress for Less, Office Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond and PetSmart. He owns retail properties in Oklahoma and Texas.
"Overall in Texas and Oklahoma my leasing has been up 15 to 20 percent," Collins said. "The problem we're having with this economy is lenders aren't loaning any money for new projects."
The slowed retail market has also caused Collins to put some plans on hold, including a 100,000-square-foot expansion of his 240,000-square-foot 240 Penn Park in south Oklahoma City.
Mark Inman, with CB Richard Ellis Oklahoma, handled the Hobby Lobby transaction.