When J.C. Penney is out, Hobby Lobby is in.
Hobby Lobby Creative Center is moving to a building being vacated by J.C. Penney, which is building a new store near 33rd and Iowa streets.
The move will nearly double the size of Hobby Lobby, which has been at 601 Kasold Dr. in the Westridge Shopping Center since early 1991.
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby said Wednesday that the move would not be official until the company announces it later this year.
``I don't mean it's a big secret,'' said Bill Hane, Hobby Lobby vice president of advertising. ``That information will be forthcoming.''
J.C. Penney plans to open in its new store in November, said Steve Wyss, manager. Hobby Lobby would move sometime after that.
Hane said Hobby Lobby usually spends about 60 days to remodel and relocate an existing store.
With about 25,000 square feet of space, Lawrence's Hobby Lobby has been one of the chain's smallest stores. The company's average is about 50,000 square feet, and some stores are as big as 70,000 square feet.
The Lawrence store's new location is about 48,000 square feet. The additional space will allow Hobby Lobby to increase inventory in several areas.
The stores carry more than 60,000 items of traditional arts and crafts supplies, fabrics, baskets, picture framing, jewelry making, cards and party supplies.
``And we're seeing a lot of growth in home-decorating items,'' Hane said. ``Obviously those smaller stores can't provide that.'' The new store will.
Elizabeth Hird, who owns the Westridge center, said she had heard rumors Hobby Lobby was leaving but had not received official notification. She said there were prospective tenants for the space, but declined to identify them.
Though J.C. Penney is abandoning the location, it's still planning to open a store that sells solely furniture, linens, draperies and other home items, as well.
Wednesday, Wyss said Penney had decided against the 23rd Street location for its Penney Home Store, but was still looking for a place to open it.
Penney's only needs about 20,000 square feet for its Home Store, Wyss said, ``and therein lay the problem'' with opening the store at the current location.
``But we're still looking,'' he said.
The new Penney store will increase the company's Lawrence employment by about 50 people, to 175, Wyss said.
-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.