BY JENNIFER BAILEY email@example.com
---- — DANVILLE — It’s been officially confirmed. Shopping at Meijer is now less than a month away.
Meijer will open for business at 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7. From there, the store is open 24 hours a day.
There will be a ribbon-cutting that morning with Meijer leadership and other officials, according to Meijer Public Relations Manager Joe Hirschmugl.
On Sunday, Nov. 10, the store celebrates its official grand opening with special events, customer giveaways, etc.
Final training and stocking continues with the store.
The 190,000-square-foot store had more than 300 positions to fill in departments, ranging from clerks and cake decorators to customer service, cashiers, receiving and meat cutters.
Meijer, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer, operates 203 super centers and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
“I’m not sure the public realizes this, but by the time Meijer and Jimmy John’s gets opened, we will have added more than 500,000 square feet of new retail space to the area with new retail sales potential of more than $115 million and around 450 new job opportunities,” said Vermilion Advantage CEO and President Vicki Haugen.
New stores and restaurants have included: Dunham’s, Ross Dress for Less, Kohl’s, T.J. Maxx, Ruler Foods, County Market in Tilton, Book World, Burlington and McDonald’s off Bowman Avenue.
“The level of variety that will be available this holiday season will be greater than I can remember in many years. There is a lot of excitement and there should be,” Haugen said. “New and existing retailers alike throughout the area should feel the benefit of the increased traffic flow and shopping option density. It should definitely be a holiday season approaching when it will be easy for folks to ‘Think Vermilion County First!’”
In addition to Meijer, the public can still look forward to Jimmy John’s opening, with a target date of Nov. 5; and All About Eyes opening next to the new Cellular One store near Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx.
Jimmy John’s “Coming Soon” banner is now up and the restaurant continues to hire employees. People can sign up for interviews at the location in Plaza 31, across from the Village Mall.
Also on Saturday from noon until 3 p.m., there will be free food, an opportunity for blood donation and sign ups for organ donation and more at the new Danville Bell Credit Union facility, 3591 N. Vermilion St., for a grand opening celebration.
It’s been five years since the Village Mall had all of its anchor spaces full. With the opening of Burlington on Friday, the anchor spots are again filled.
Mall Manager Cindy Compton remains excited about the mall’s future. A focus remains on the food court area, in addition to filling remaining open spots.
The former Cellular One space is a high traffic space that shouldn’t remain empty for long, Compton said.
The mall also remains a community location for events, such as pre-school screenings for Danville District 118, pet adoptions, business expos, pageants, ballroom dancing events and more.
The holiday set up at the mall will occur in early November. Santa arrives at the mall on Nov. 23.
Vinyl World is one of the newest additions in a space in the mall. It had occupied a kiosk. It has custom vinyl decal designs and professional installation for any type of vehicle, wall or applicable surface.
Compton said she can be contacted about temporary spaces inside the mall. She said the mall owners continue to look for tenants to complement each other in the mall.
“It’s starting to get really, really busy,” Compton said about the holiday season approaching.
Jobs, sales tax
In Vermilion County, retail employment has grown at a steady pace since October 2012.
According to the August 2013 Illinois Department of Employment Security Labor analysis, retail trade comprises almost 12 percent of employment in Vermilion County or 3,500 jobs.
This category is outnumbered only by government at 6,000 jobs or 20.5 percent and manufacturing at 5,100 jobs or 17.4 percent.
Haugen also points out that in Vermilion County, retail sales tax comprises more than 8 percent of the total county budget and more than 15 percent of the general fund.
In Danville, retail sales tax accounts for more than 65 percent of the general revenue fund. The tax revenue helps with public works, public safety and other city operations.
“This is an extremely exciting time in the community,” said Mayor Scott Eisenhauer.
With development envisioned with incentive programs and now seeing the grand openings of retailers and restaurants and more to come, Eisenhauer said it’s exciting to see that vision now become a reality.
“It’s been amazing to see the development at the Village Mall,” he added.
He said the city is attracting stores not all located already in central Illinois.
“What I think is also just as exciting is all of the attention we’re getting from other developers,” Eisenhauer added.
He said it’s great to see more restaurants open, ones residents have said to him over the years that they’d love to see here.