The new 94,000-square-foot store opened to shoppers at 7 a.m. Wednesday, with 150 people waiting to get in at 6:45 a.m., said store manager Billy Butts. The grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremonies began at 10 a.m.
The new store employs more than 300 people and added 183 jobs. Kroger officials thanked the local Georgia Department of Labor office for helping to fill those jobs and Griffin Mayor Joanne Todd said there were 1,000 applicants for the 183 jobs.
Todd thanked Kroger for the investment in the community, with the additional jobs and the new, larger store.
“It’s so massive,” Todd said. “I may not surface for days, once I go in.”
She said the store was “the fulfillment of the shopping experience for the city, it’s upscale but down-home.”
Todd also recognized a longtime Kroger associate, Janet Bibbs, who’s been with the Griffin Kroger almost as long as Kroger has been in Griffin. She presented a key to the city to Bibbs, who has worked at the Griffin Kroger since 1953.
Kroger opened its first store in Griffin, a 9,000-square-foot store on South Hill Street, in 1951, moved to a larger West Taylor Street site in 1974, then to the Spalding Village site in 1989, said Jerry Morton, from Kroger.
Located at 1524 Georgia Highway 16 West, between Lowe’s and the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, the Kroger Pavilion store features a fuel center, which opened earlier this month, as well as a Starbucks, an expanded deli department, bistro and sushi bar, a full-service meat/seafood department, floral department, expanded Natures Market with organic foods, a drive-through pharmacy and an extensive general merchandise department.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony recognized former managers and associates at the Kroger in Griffin, city officials, contractors and current department managers.
The ceremonies also recognized the store’s commitment to the community with check presentations of $250 to each of the store’s five Partners in Education, Jackson Road Elementary School, Mainstay Academy, Beaverbrook Elementary, A.Z. Kelsey Academy and Griffin High School, and a donation of $10,000 in teacher school supplies to the Griffin-Spalding County School System.
The grand opening celebrations run through Saturday, with more family-friendly activities.
On Friday there will be face painting from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and violinist Boris Bernshteyn from 4 to 6 p.m. On Saturday there will be face painting from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from noon to 2 p.m. the Kroger Kids Mascots will be at the store.