CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) – The opening of the first Ollie's Bargain Outlet in the Grand Strand is generating a lot of excitement. It's the latest big box store to set up shop in the growing the Carolina Forest community.
"Once the sign goes up, that really starts getting people excited. So there's been a lot of people wanting to get in. We're almost ready to get them here," says store manager John Santora.
Ollie's has dozens of locations across the country and, according to Santora, attracts customers by offering deep discounts on a wide variety of items. Owners of neighboring businesses in the Forest Square Shopping Center say the new Ollie's is the lifeline they've been hoping for.
"For us this is like really great. It'll put this mall back on the map again so to speak and people will start coming here," says Tony Sorrentino, owner of the Bagel Factory.
There used to be a Piggly Wiggly's in the commercial space now occupied by Ollie's. Ever since the store closed about three years ago, other shops in the shopping plaza have been fighting an uphill battle just to stay open.
A new Goodwill store opened earlier this year and it has helped attract more customers to the center according to Sorrentino. But all eyes seem to be on Ollie's now as shop owners eagerly wait for the grand opening.
"We'll be twice as busy as we have been for several years now. So it should be very good for us," said Sorrentino. Just a few doors down at ASK Nutrition, owner Ana Mabry agrees. "It gives us hope. It gives us stability."
There are still a handful of vacant commercial spots in the Forest Square Shopping Center. Locals are also hoping the Ollie's will help to fill those spaces.
"I'm excited. Hopefully more businesses at this center will open because this is convenient location for Carolina Forest Boulevard," said Carolina Forest resident Morgan Tingler.
The new Ollie's is set to open on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Management for the new store says they have hired a full staff of about 55 employees but are still accepting applications in the store.