As construction crews with Page Development Group put the final touches on the new Hobby Lobby location at the south end of the Heartland Mall, Hobby Lobby managers are staffing up.

In anticipation of its July 2 opening, Hobby Lobby managers will accept applications for temporary store setup assistants with the potential for full-time and part-time positions in cashier, floral, crafts, arts, custom frames, hobbies and fabric departments and will accept applications from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, June 4 through Friday June 8 inside the Texas Rural Transit District on Early Boulevard.

“We’re feeling pretty great,” Early Chamber of Commerce Membership Coordinator Domonique Stephens said. “It’s nice to know such a great corporation will be coming to our area and adding so many jobs to our community … They called and asked if there were any places in Early where they could have their event. We suggested [TRTD] and worked together.”

In March, Early Mayor Robert Mangrum said the new Hobby Lobby would add 50 full-time and part-time jobs to the economy when it opens in July 2. The jobs listed on a recent flier posted on the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, part-time jobs start at $10.45 while full-time positions start at $15.70. According to a press release posted on Hobby Lobby’s website, the Early store in one of 60 it plans to open in 2018, adding 2,500 jobs across the US.

“People don’t have to move out of town to get these jobs,” Stephens said. “We have them right here … It’s been a nice correspondence back and forth. They are telling us what they need and we’re doing our best to help even a little bit of what they’re asking for. It’s our job to continue to show them all businesses are important and any new business coming into the community will help us in the long run. We’re just trying to do our part.”

Page Development Group Owner Greg Page said his crew has about a week until it turns the building over to Hobby Lobby store designers, who will install the signage, shelves and cash registers.

“We try to push the schedule as much as we can. Hobby Lobby has a parameter for when they want to start getting into stores,” Page said. “For instance, they’re going to start fixturing on the 11th, and they have 21 days they’re going to take to get all the shelving in and the merchandise up. It’s a pretty tight schedule, but we’re been doing it for so long we have it down to a science.”

Page said bringing the former JC Penny location to Hobby Lobby standards was not easy. The store had been vacant since May of 2017 and just sitting vacant for a few months left the much to be desired when he first began work on the building in March.

“At first, it was a bit overwhelming,” Page said. “The condition it was left in made me wonder what happened before. It looked like there was water damage before – the way they cut the bottom of the sheetrock. Typically, when you flood you have to cut the sheetrock out and the carpet was all pulled up. We were wondering if we were going to find any mold and so far so good. We haven’t found anything.”

Page said the construction phase has come to an end and now he is working with corporate on a punch list — where he and officials through Hobby Lobby iron out the final details of the restoration before turning it over to the employees.

“We walk the job with corporate saying ‘Let’s fix this, we don’t really like this or change this on there,” Page said. “We make those changes and it takes us about two weeks to get everything wrapped up … At this point, we’re at what’s called substantial completion. We’re 99 percent done with the job.”