SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Judging from the lines at the cash registers and the almost full parking lot May 24, Ocean State Job Lot’s move into the former Benny’s is a hit with shoppers.
The store held a soft opening last week and plans a more formal ribbon-cutting for Saturday.
On the Friday before Memorial Day, a steady stream of shoppers flowed in and out of the new location at 688 Kingstown Road, home of Benny’s until that retailing giant closed its stores more than a year ago.
“We opened (May 23) at 11 a.m. and ever since then, we’ve been completely slamming,” store team leader Tim Eichholz said.
Job Lot essentially moved across the street from its previous location at 36 Old Tower Hill Road. Job Lot is leasing the space from the Carpionato Group, a real-estate development company that last year purchased 29 Benny’s locations with the intent of redeveloping them as retail spaces.
It took two weeks to outfit the new store, which has 16,500 square feet – 2,500 more than the former store.
“What we couldn’t do over at the other store is have a proper patio display setup made, so this is the first time for that at the Wakefield location,” Eichholz said.
The store also can now offer a proper display of Oriental and area rugs, which it had no room to do before.
“We only had an eight-foot table, so this is a huge step up for us, which has been a huge request,” Eichholz said.
The store has a temporary tie-up sign on the building’s exterior for now, but will soon get its permanent sign installed, Eichholz said.
Established in Rhode Island in 1977, Ocean State Job Lot today operates 138 stores across the Northeast, 16 in Rhode Island, and employs around 5,200 workers.
The Wakefield store was the second to open in 1980, after the original North Kingstown store, Eichholz said. Fifty-three employees work at the Wakefield location.
The new spot gives Job Lot prime visibility from heavily-traveled Kingstown Road, something it lacked at its old address.
“It was down this hill in a brick building with no sign and nothing on it,” Eichholz said. “Even with GPS, people had trouble finding it.”
Job Lot also opened a location at a former Benny’s in Cranston last week and plans to open one at an old Benny’s in Warwick, spokesman Matthew Blanchette said.
“In the ‘80s they couldn’t afford big spaces so they opened in tiny locations,” he said. “They’ve grown into being able to give shoppers the best experience they can.”
One shopper walking through the new store offered an early review.
“It’s looking very nice,” he said. “Infinitely better location and parking.”