NORTH ADAMS - Local and state officials teamed with Ocean State Job Lot representatives for the grand opening Saturday of the discount retailer's newest store, in the former Walmart building on Curran Highway.
"We really feel proud and grateful to be here opening our 110th store," Paul Conforti, Ocean State Job Lot's chief marketing officer, said during the event.
The store had a soft opening Tuesday, Aug. 20, but the grand opening drew a crowd of hundreds, and the parking lot was full throughout the morning. At the store's main entrance, executives greeted customers as they entered the 46,000-square-foot store, which occupies the right side of the building.
"This is probably some of the best reaction I've seen in all the stores that I've been through. That's really warming and really nice to see," said store manager Scott Collett.
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright; state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams; City Councilors Lisa Blackmer, Jennifer Breen and Marie Harpin; and Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Michael Supranowicz joined Conforti, Collett and Ocean State Marketing Director David Sarlitto at the day's ribboncutting ceremony. "We're here today to thank our new community business partners, Ocean State Job Lot, for your investment, your confidence," Alcombright said.
The new location, the first in the Berkshires, employs roughly 30 full- and part-time workers. Ocean State employs 4,000 total, Sarlitto said.
"You've chosen a wonderful community with wonderful people that are really going to enjoy the type of unique shopping experience that Ocean State provides," Cariddi said.
Also at the grand opening, the company donated 30,000 pounds food to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and contributed to Honor Flight New England, a nonprofit organization that provides flights for World War II veterans who wish to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"This is a very community driven place," Collett said. "We would like to be a part of that."
The North Adams location is the fourth Ocean State Job Lot store where Collett, a Troy, N.Y., native, has worked.
"We tried to introduce ourselves to a new town and a new area, and hoped everybody accepted us. It looks like it worked out really well," he said.
Sarlitto praised the location for the new store and the process of getting the new business in place.
"We're not a run of the mill store and I got the sense that this is not a run of the mill town," Sarlitto said. "This is a great place. When we were originally looking at the location about six weeks ago, I said, it's us. I was happy to see the turnout and these guys have been fantastic. When we originally talked about purchasing this location, Mayor Alcombright was all over it."
Ocean State Job Lot approached the city in late May to discuss opening the store.
"We did everything well on the government side to create the process. On their side, they built the product and it came out really well," Alcombright said. "It's a great thing when you have a company like this that wants to make an investment in the community. You just have to be thankful on every level."
Harpin also expressed gratitude for the store's opening.
"It's not just bringing jobs for people in our community, but it's also bringing in taxes for our city," she said.
Ocean State Job Lot sells a variety of merchandise ranging from food, pet supplies, household items and clothing, to more specialized items, such as kayaks and oriental rugs. The Rhode Island-based company, with stores throughout New England and New York, opened its first location in North Kingstown, R.I., in 1977. Visitors to the new store Saturday received the new addition well.
"We came here to see the new store," Dianne Lawson, of Adams, said. "I bought a couple of [New England] Patriots T-shirts. It's a nice store."
Tractor Supply Company plans to open a 27,000square-foot space, which will be located on the left side of the building, in October. An 18,000-square-foot space in the middle of the building is still available for lease.
The store's hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Sundays.
New England Newspapers reporter Phil Demers contributed to this report.