Originally created 05/07/02

Ross Dress for Less moves back to Augusta



Discount clothing retailer Ross Stores Inc. is returning to Augusta after a seven-year hiatus.

The retailer, whose Ross Dress for Less stores sell mostly closeout merchandise, is leasing a 30,000-square-foot space at the Augusta Square shopping center on Wrightsboro Road near Augusta Mall.

The store will open in September, company spokeswoman Katie Loughnot said.

The Newark, Calif.-based company left the Augusta market in 1995 when it closed its Ross store in the Washington Square shopping center on Washington Road. Ross Stores has been on an expansion kick in recent months, opening several stores in Georgia, starting with Atlanta, during the past year.

"We're growing rapidly in the Southeast," Ms. Loughnot said, adding that the 470-store chain hopes to have 500 stores by year's end.

The 35-employee Augusta store will occupy a space vacated two years ago by discount drugstore Phar-Mor. Ross' top competitor, T.J. Maxx, will be next door.

Ms. Loughnot said it is not uncommon for Ross stores to open in shopping centers occupied by other discounters. She said the cluster effect increases overall traffic to the shopping centers, which, in turn, helps their stores.

"We find that stores located near (our competitors) tend to do just as well as those that aren't," she said.

Ross Stores last year posted sales of $2.7 billion, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Men's, women's and children's apparel accounts for most sales, and Ross also sells housewares, sporting goods, consumer electronics, toys and luggage.

The former Ross location at Washington Square is now occupied by discount clothing store Beall's Outlet.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.