The opening of a new retail establishment just days away is generating excitement among employees and potential customers alike.
“We’re frothing at the mouth, I guess you could say,” said Chris Johnson, operations manager of the new Academy Sports + Outdoors at 610 El Camino Alto Drive.
“We’ve gone through the majority of training, and putting the final touches on the store,” said Johnson, who began training several months ago. Training for most employees began last month.
The store will open to the general public at 8 a.m. Friday. But it will admit 50 special customers — members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield and Joplin — after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that begins at 6 p.m. Thursday. Each of the boys and girls will be given $100 gift cards for a shopping spree.
Jeff Long, director of the Musgrave Unit Boys & Girls Club in Springfield, said staff selected eight members from his unit for the shopping spree based on their interest in sports, their good behavior and need. They are all pretty excited, he said.
“Some have been out south to see the store; they’ve all heard the buzz,” said Long.
Johnson said he can’t wear his company shirt out in public without attracting questions about the new 87,000 square-feet store which is employing about 150 people.
The company has been around since 1938 and is family owned, Johnson said.
While Bass Pro caters to people who like the outdoors and MC Sports caters to athletes, Academy Sports + Outdoors serves both market segments, he explained. As an employee, Johnson said he values the family-oriented atmosphere of the company.
Most of the positions at the store have been filled, said Allan Rojas, spokesperson for the Katy, Texas-based company. People may apply for remaining positions by going to the company website at www.academy.com.
Johnson said he expects hiring to pick up as positions are added for the holiday season.
According to the website, open positions in Springfield include custodian; receiving associate; and sales associates in apparel, team sports, footwear, fishing/hunting and camping.
Academy Sports + Outdoors has 135 stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, according to its website. The company lost its Joplin store in the May 22 tornado. The company does intend to rebuild, said Rojas, but has not established a timeline for doing so.
Rojas said “several” of the Springfield employees are temporary transfers from the Joplin store who will return to Joplin when the company rebuilds.
Long said he’s just impressed that a new business would come to town and immediately reach out to a charity; he wished more would follow Academy’s lead.
“They are saying ‘Yes, we want to sell sporting items, but we are also concerned for kids who need us most,’” said Long.