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Shoppers' delight: Kohl's opens in Flowery Branch
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Kohl’s, the Wisconsin-based department store chain, held the grand opening Wednesday for its second Hall County store.

Sheila Shaw of Chestnut Mountain, who had shopped with Kohl’s at other locations, was among the customers on opening day.

"It will be convenient," Shaw said. "It’s almost like Atlanta is coming to South Hall."

Kathy Ploch of Sugar Hill wasted no time in grabbing up sweaters.

"What a beautiful store," Ploch said, adding that she had shopped with Kohl’s in Duluth and Cumming. "I’ve been their customer for years."

The store is one of the company’s new "Innovation Stores," which incorporates a new interior merchandising layout, as well as large display windows offering an exterior view of the latest fashions.

Store manager Suzanne Dickerson said the staff, numbering around 150, had been working for six weeks to prepare the store to open.

The 123,000-square-foot store is the first to open in Stonebridge Crossing, a festival-type center that will include Target, Home Depot, Office Max and Ross stores.

When completed, the center will be the largest shopping center in Hall County. Home Depot is putting the final touches on a giant home improvement center also scheduled to open this month. It will be the Atlanta-based company’s second store in Hall County.

Work on other stores at the center continued at a steady pace Wednesday as the Kohl’s portion of the parking lot was isolated by temporary fences.

The center markets a significant shift of nongrocery retail business in Hall County.

Kit Dunlap, president and chief executive of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said that the new center will bring home sales tax dollars that previously were lost to nearby Gwinnett County.

"It’s excellent news for South Hall County, and I think it will only bring more, and those tax dollars will mean a lot."

She said that it is a sign of the economic power of the residential boom in South Hall.

"Retail follows rooftops," she said, adding that she still thinks there is a market in the county for an upscale specialty retail center, such as the Avenue Center being developed in Forsyth County.

Kohl’s, which entered the Atlanta market in 2000, now has 28 stores in Georgia.