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Dunham’s celebrates opening with ribbon cutting

On Friday, Dunham’s Sports celebrated its new LaGrange Mall location with a ribbon cutting at the new location.

The store had been open in LaGrange for several days, but the ribbon cutting was an opportunity for everyone to really appreciate the teamwork between local officials, the mall owners and Dunham’s that made the grand opening possible.

“This is a great day for Dunham’s, and it is also a great day for the city of LaGrange,” Mayor Jim Thornton said.

Generally, there is not much incentive for mall owners to try to fill empty store locations if the rent on the spot has been paid, which was the case with the former JC Penney location, so local officials agreed to create a tax allocation district that covered the mall property. The TAD gave the mall owners tax incentives to fill the location sooner rather than later.

“If you go around the country, there are lots of malls where big box retailers and stores are closing, and they just sit empty, but that is not happening here in LaGrange,” Thornton said. “Because of the partnership with the Hull Property Group, the owners of the mall, the city, the county and the school board, as well as you at Dunham’s, we have filled this JC Penney box — all 50,000-square feet of it with wonderful, beautiful, low price merchandise that I think will really appeal to the residents of LaGrange. We are excited that you are soon going to have a neighbor with another 60,000-square foot building under construction for the Hobby Lobby right next door.”

Dunham’s Sports has been in business for 80 years, but the business has only recently expanded to the south east. The only other Georgia locations for the store are in Rome and Statesboro.

“We started in Michigan in 1937, and we’ve grown to over 240 stores now,” Manager Jared Hodges said. “This is our third location in Georgia, so we are really excited to be down here expanding.”

City councilmembers regularly hear requests for more shopping options from residents, so they were excited about the addition of a new shopping amenity to LaGrange.

“It is a golden opportunity for the citizens to be able to go in and buy quality merchandise at a very low price,” Councilmember LeGree McCamey said. “This is what we’ve been needing.”

Other council members at the ribbon cutting agreed that the new store is a step forward for LaGrange.

“I’m excited to have some new business in this place so that we do not have to see it empty,” Councilmember Norma Tucker said. “The JC Penney sign has come down, and a new name is up, so there will be some more opportunities for visitors to come into the community.”

Tucker noted that while some locals may still prefer to drive to Columbus or Newnan to shop, the introduction of the store may entice residents of other cities to come to LaGrange looking for deals on items like clothing and sporting equipment.

Dunham’s Sports is located in the LaGrange Mall at 1501 Lafayette Parkway and is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hull Property Group has not released an updated opening date for Hobby Lobby at this time, but construction is currently underway on that project.