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Hobby Lobby takes a big step

Expansion brings new footprint to 46,861 square feet

January 22, 2012
By TERRENCE DWYER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Hobby Lobby, 301 S. 29th St., has embarked on an expansion that will result in the store occupying substantially more of the building where it is currently housed. This will increase its footprint by more than 25 percent to 46,841 square feet.

Store Manager Ryan Needham said the goal is to make the already thriving store even more convenient and useful to customers.

"That's exactly what it's all about," he said, noting that the added space will allow the local store to increase the lines of merchandise carried and display the products in all parts of the store optimally.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Hobby Lobby construction superintendent Chip Pearson, left, shows Fort Dodge store manager Ryan Needham some of the materials that will be used on the ceiling and floor in the new addition to the store. Expanding into the adjacent vacant portion of the building, which last housed Big Lots, will increase Hobby Lobby’s local footprint by more than 25 percent.

"The customers will have an easier time shopping," he said.

Needham said Hobby Lobby in Fort Dodge currently offers 54,622 different items with the selection increasing during the Christmas holiday season. Once the new space is outfitted and fully stocked, the inventory will be larger and the choice of products even greater. He said the new areas of the store should be ready to serve customers by March.

Hobby Lobby nationally is based in Oklahoma City. The huge company grew out of a small store founded by David Green in 1972. According to an official corporate profile, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. now has 499 stores in 41 states.

Needham said the Fort Dodge Hobby Lobby has been part of the local retail world for 12 years and is one of a dozen outlets the company owns in Iowa.

Hobby Lobby has evolved over the last four decades into a multifaceted operation.

"We're a crafting store," Needham said. "That's fundamentally the way we began. We expanded into the home decor market. So, that's where a lot of the growth has been. We continue to stay true to the crafting start by expanding in recent years, expanding the amount of scrapbooking material we carry."

The array of products available at Hobby Lobby in Fort Dodge is extensive. Store departments include floral, fabrics/sewing, needlework, framing, arts, hobbyist, jewelry, crafts, scrapbooking, home accents/decor, men's decor and seasonal.

In addition to the sales areas, the store features a large, comfortable classroom that is the site of company-sponsored classes as well as available for hobbyist-run ventures.

"We teach a Wilton class, which is a cake decorating class. It's a cake-decorating system," Needham explained. "The Wilton classes are store-sponsored. Anything else, we look for volunteers from the community who would like to use our room and teach a class on what they find to be fun - scrapbooking maybe or a quilting class. ... We welcome crafting groups approaching us about the use of the classroom. We are interested in virtually any crafting group - certainly ones represented here in our store."

Needham has been manager of the Hobby Lobby in Fort Dodge for three years. Prior to that he was employed by the company in the Kansas City area. He said his senior management team also includes Co-manager Eric Carlson and Assistant Manager Jo Ann Mallinger.

The store employs 20 people throughout the year with the staff complement increasing to 27 during the holiday shopping season, according to Needham. He said the store expansion may lead to some enhancement in staffing as 2012 unfolds.

A huge inventory is part of the reason for Hobby Lobby's success, but Needham said there is more to the story.

"We're really customer-focused," he said. "So, what we want to do is meet our customers' needs. ... That's always a challenge. ... Everybody's looking for a good deal. ... We're here to try to help them find that."

Needham said the nature of the products Hobby Lobby sells results in much repeat business and makes his job more interesting.

"It's what's fun, because you get to know people," he said.

Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or



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