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Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Best Buy sets Friday the 13th for grand opening

May 21, 2003

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South Iowa Street's newest retail giant will open its doors in about three weeks.

Officials with Best Buy confirmed Tuesday they had set June 13 as the opening date for their first Lawrence store, located at 31st and Iowa streets.

"We always open our store on a Friday at 10 a.m.," said Mollie Juelich, a spokeswoman with the Richfield, Minn.-based home electronics retailer. "It is a good way to kick off the weekend. It gets everybody in the mood to shop the whole weekend."

Juelich said the store would have a variety of special events surrounding the opening but declined to elaborate because details hadn't been finalized.

The 30,000-square-foot store will employ 150 full- and part-time employees, Juelich said.

The Lawrence store is one of about 60 that the company is opening in 2003. Juelich said the retailer decided to expand into the Lawrence market, in part, because its research showed the community had a limited number of electronics retailers.

"We think we can help serve a need in the community that maybe isn't being fully met," Juelich said. "Our research shows people have been driving a long ways to some of our stores."

Best Buy has stores in the Topeka and Kansas City metro areas.

Juelich said the other reason the company decided to locate a store in Lawrence was because of the community's demographics.

"It is a great, growing market," Juelich said. "It is a big college community, which means it has a lot of early adapters of technology.

"That means there are a lot of people who gravitate toward new technology right out of the gate. They are the first people to buy a DVD player, or the first people to put a satellite dish on their roof. They just love all the new technology, and we love being near those type of people."

The Lawrence store will be about 15,000 square feet smaller than the company's standard stores, like the ones located in the Topeka or Kansas City markets.

Juelich said the store would have all the departments of a standard-size store, but each department would be slightly smaller. The departments include music, movies, games, computers, stereos, televisions, wireless phones, digital cameras and home appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators.

Other electronic retailers in Lawrence seem to be taking Best Buy's future opening in stride.

Bobby Wood, assistant manager at Rex's T.V. & Appliances, 2800 Iowa, said the store wasn't planning on changing its operations once Best Buy opened.

Wood said there were about 300 Rex's stores across the country and many of them directly compete with Best Buy. He said many times those stores saw their sales increase because Best Buy drew more shoppers to the area.

"We'll compete just fine on price and service," Wood said. "It will be nice to just get people in town to shop. It will help take care of the idea that you have to go out of town to shop."

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