Originally created 03/03/98

Open for business



Based on the number of stores scheduled to open, March could be a good time to shop.

Michael's Arts & Crafts, which opened its doors to the public Sunday, was the first in a series of retail openings scheduled for the month.

Other stores opening this month include J.B. White's department store at the Augusta Mall, and Winn-Dixie Marketplace grocery store and Cooker Bar and Grille restaurant at the Augusta Exchange shopping center off Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway.

Michael's, a chain of arts and crafts stores based in Irvine, Texas, moved its Augusta store from its former location in the National Hills shopping center on Washington Road into a 18,000 square-foot store at the Augusta Exchange. The new store is about 5,000 square-feet larger.

"This is absolutely a beautiful store," Michael's manager Wayne Asbill said Monday. "The lines were full all day long."

J.B. White department store, which plans to open on March 11 at the Augusta Mall, has scheduled a series of opening events, including a March 8 Grand Gala for VIP charge account customers to a March 21 visit from Olympic champion Nadia Comenchi.

"We're so excited," store spokeswoman Marion White said. "We just can't wait to get the doors open and let everyone see us."

The 160,000-square-foot department store will replace a store of similar size that recently closed at the Recency Mall. It is the fifth anchor store at the Augusta Mall and features a coffee shop and bridal department.

Winn-Dixie Marketplace also will open at the Augusta Exchange the end of this month. An exact date was not available from the company, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla. The company has about 1,200 stores throughout the southeast.

Cooker restaurant is scheduled to open March 18, only two days later than originally planned. The restaurant is a sit-down family eatery that serves home-style meals. Entrees include, ribs, chicken and steak. Parent company Cooker Restaurant Corp., based in West Palm Beach, Fla., has 60 restaurants throughout the country, including in Atlanta and Alpharetta.

The Augusta Exchange, which opened in October, is an expanding center with six large-to-medium sized stores and several smaller ones. In addition to the grocery store, two smaller retailers: Party City, an 11,000-square-foot-store, and a 7,500-square-foot Hallmark store also are expected to open in the spring, Atlanta-based developers said.

The Augusta Exchange Limited Liability Co. also has contracts with Logan's Steakhouse, Chili's Grill and Bar, and Don Pablo's to open restaurants at the shopping complex later this year.

At the Augusta West shopping plaza, another retail center off Augusta West Parkway, The Athlete's Foot -- an Atlanta-based shoe retailer -- plans to open its first free-standing store in the Augusta area in May.

The 12,000 square-foot store will be the company's 13th free-standing shoe store in the United States. It will sell brand-name athletic shoes and other sports apparel.