Home Depot Is Coming

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Home Depot is coming to Payson, and it's bringing 150 new jobs with it.

"We are interested in locating a store at the southwest corner of Houston Mesa Road and Highway 87," said Kathryn Gallagher, media relations person with the Georgia headquarters of the company.

The plans are to build a facility with 102,000 square feet, along with a 35,000-square-foot garden center, she said.

"We're working through the approval process with the town," Gallagher said. "We are planning to begin construction in the summer of 2004, and if everything goes according to plan, opening in early 2005."

She said a store the size being considered for the Rim country usually has 150 local hires and brings in a management team of about 20. Hiring will not begin until the winter holidays, with a trailer on site. However, as soon as late October, people can make an application online at careers.homedepot.com.

"We hire everyone from people skilled in the building trades to those with no experience," Gallagher said.

The 150 positions include both full- and part-time posts. She said all positions will be paid above minimum wage and include benefits.

Gallagher said some of the programs incorporated into the new Home Depot stores are tool rentals, interior design services with a showroom, an appliance showroom, plus installation or "at home" services.

As with all Home Depot stores, there will be a variety of clinics offered.

"When you have an inventory like we do, you have to teach people how to use it," Gallagher said.

Generally the clinics are offered once a day during the week, often in the evenings, with two presented during the weekends. There will also be workshops for children, offered the first Saturday of every month.

Payson was chosen for consideration because the company's studies have shown many residents from the area are shopping in its Phoenix stores, Gallagher said.

"We want to provide a more convenient shopping location for these people and the businesses there," she said. "Studies have also shown Payson has a dynamic, growing business environment that will be able to support a Home Depot store."

The Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation made contact with the company, through an outside Realtor about a year ago, executive director Scott Flake said.

"Things were put on hold when they went into an existing site in the White Mountains," he said.

The PREDC directed the real estate agent to the Houston Mesa Road site and several others, he said.

"We're excited about it, but we're also concerned about how it will affect local businesses," Flake said.

Glen McCombs, owner of Plant Fair Nursery, said he has not really had time to think about the impact a Home Depot will have on his business.

"Of course, it will impact us," McCombs said. "Any place they go, businesses suffer. I'll be talking to friends who have had them come in down the street from them and see how it impacted them."

"We would definitely be impacted," said Klay Clawson, general manager for Foxworth-Galbraith in Payson. "And it wouldn't be for the good."

The news did not come as a surprise though.

"We have been continuously working on being prepared for competition coming in," Clawson said.

"I don't think they'll have much impact on us," J.T. Welnick, manager of Lumbermen's, said. "Most of our business -- about 90 percent -- is with the professional builders. Home Depot doesn't have the expertise to take care of the professional."

"I can only base my thoughts on what other Ace dealers have experienced," John Patricia, owner of Ace Hardware and Nursery, said.

"I think it's an asset and will bring in a lot of things we can't buy here and help avoid leakage."

He said the company is certainly a competitor, but Ace provides a different kind of service.

"People come to us for help and advice," Patricia said. "They want to get in and out and not have to wait in line. We'll make some changes.

"Our fireplace shop, which is a substantial part of our business, is something they don't have. I've been hearing the rumors for some time and I'm guardedly optimistic."

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