Hobby Lobby store coming to Tilton

Arts and crafts retailer expecting to create 35 to 50 new jobs

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN

TILTON — A protective fence now blocks the entrance of the former Shaw's Supermarket, and the warning signal of a backing forklift periodically sounds as work begins on the future site of a Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store.
The national retail chain already has stores in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Seabrook, and it is advertising for a co-manager in Tilton who isn't afraid of a "roll-up-your-sleeves" management approach.
Bob Miller, communications coordinator for Hobby Lobby, said the company is looking forward to opening in Tilton. No date has been set, but the 55,000-square-foot store expects to bring 35-50 new jobs to the community.
"We are always looking for new locations to better serve our customers," Miller said. "The success of our stores in New Hampshire led us to look at Tilton. We think this is a great location and we are eager to get the doors open and become a part of the community."
Hobby Lobby currently has more than 750 stores across the nation, adding 56 new stores last year (including eight relocated stores), and plans call for opening in 60 locations this year, which would mean jobs for 1,700 to 2,500 new employees, according to Miller.
Each store, Miller said, offers more than 70,000 crafting and home decor products, including floral, fabric, needle art, custom framing, baskets, home accents, wearable art, wedding supplies, arts and crafts, jewelry-making, scrapbooking and paper crafting supplies.
Store hours will be Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sunday.
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., an Oklahoma City-based corporation, began in 1970 as Greco, a miniature picture frame company, in David Green's garage. When Green moved his business to a 300-square-foot retail space in 1972, he renamed it Hobby Lobby and now it advertises as the nation's largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer.
For the ninth consecutive year, Hobby Lobby has raised the minimum wage for its employees, paying $15.70 per hour to full-time employees as of April 15. Part-time employees earn $10.45 per hour.
"Our company would not be successful without the great work employees do each day in our stores," Green said in a press release announcing this year's increase. "We know that if we reward our employees for their hard work we will be rewarded in turn with their loyalty and dedication to their job and our customers."
Green credits the success of the company to his parents, who emphasized faith, a strong family, and generous living. "Green shares principles that have guided him in growing a business from scratch, weathering a Supreme Court case, raising a loving family, and leaving them a lasting legacy," the release states.
The U.S. Supreme Court case arose from Hobby Lobby's challenge of the provision in the Affordable Care Act that required employers to provide contraception, and the company ultimately prevailed on religious grounds. The case recognized closely held corporations as persons, which brought Hobby Lobby and similar operations protection under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

Students enjoy a day downtown as part of their education

By ALANA PERSSON, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The typical day in a classroom was replaced with a day of local exploration, as third-grade students from Elm Street School visited various businesses in Laconia during their "Day Downtown" field trip.

Third-grade teacher Andy Mercer wanted to show his students that although dreams of becoming a lawyer or doctor are possible, there are other careers that students can make into a reality one day, too. Some of these careers could include hairdressers, coffee connoisseurs, jewelers, fitness club owners or dance teachers. So, to give students a taste of what following their passions could one day look like, he decided to connect with local business owners who had made their own dreams a reality.

"My goal is to get a kid to say 25 years from now, that the experience they got at Polished and Proper Hair Salon showed them that being a hairdresser is a great opportunity," said Mercer. "I wanted to give kids a chance to see that they can support themselves by making a passion into a livelihood."

The idea for this new field trip first stemmed from a writing class Mercer just completed as part of his masters program. The class, Place-Based Writing, focused on observing and appreciating the present, past and future in specific places. Realizing that downtown Laconia held various memories for Mercer, a Laconia native, he believed that the newly revived downtown could hold memories and opportunities for a new generation of students, too.

The businesses were supportive and eager to be part of "A Day Downtown," according to Mercer. Places visited during the field trip included The Laconia Public Library, Polished and Proper, All My Life Jewelers, Raw Fitness, Stages Dance Studio, Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, Remax Realty, and MC Cycle & Sport.

Each business did more than just let the students view the facilities, but conducted workshops that allowed them to understand more about how they operate. At Raw Fitness, located on Pleasant Street, students were able to participate in mini classes lead by owner, Lyndsey Cook, and watch part of a personal training lesson. All My Life Jewelers also provided students with an interactive visit, as they used a scope to view a piece of amber with a mosquito in it, according to owner Randy Bullerwell.

Wayfarer Coffee Roasters was also an eager participant in the event, and allowed students to see first hand just how all of the food and coffee is made. As a business that prides itself for making everything from scratch, students learned the many steps to the roasting process and hot chocolate-making. At the end of these workshops, each student was given a free cup of hot chocolate.

"We were totally on board because anything involving the community is awesome," said Karen Bassett, co-owner of Wayfarer. "We love to show that we are proud to work in Laconia."

In addition to visiting the businesses, each student donated $5 that will be put toward purchasing a chair at the Colonial Theatre downtown. Through this donation, students will be able to give back to the businesses downtown, which they now have a new appreciation for.

"This is a great city," said Mercer. " It's really important that students see all that the community provides for them, so that they can be grateful and give back."

05-17 Day Downtown Wayfarer 05-17 Day Downtown Wayfarer 3

Co-owner Ben Bullerwell shows students the coffee roasting process that takes place daily at Wayfarer. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)

05-17 Day Downtown Wayfarer 2

Co-owner Karen Bassett shows students the process of making hot chocolate from scratch. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)

Smooth sidewalk

05 16 Smooth Sidewalk

Hank Pineault, at left, and George Baker, both workers with Tri-State Curb, of Weare, smooth freshly-poured concrete for sidewalks along Lakeside Avenue at Weirs Beach. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

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