Ocean State - photo 0702

Ocean State Job Lots manager Rob Couras adjusts a rack of shorts Monday. The store opened in the former Hobby Lobby space Thursday and will have a grand opening later this month.

Ocean State Job Lots opened quietly and is already doing strong business.

Manager Rob Couras said that what looked like a reasonable crowd for a Monday afternoon was actually slow compared to the customer traffic he’d seen since Rutland’s newest store opened its doors.

“It’s been busy,” he said. “I think we’re doing a lot better than expected. When we do a soft opening, we expect it to be very soft. The doors open at 8 and we have people here at 9 o’clock. I’ve had one lady who’s been here every day.”

Ocean State Job Lots is the newest occupant of the space behind Panera Bread on South Main Street. The 47,000-square-foot building previously held a Hannaford and then a Hobby Lobby. The store is planning a grand opening on July 13. In addition to holding a ribbon-cutting, it will mark the occasion by donating a tractor-trailer full of food to a local food bank. Couras touted the company’s charitable giving, saying it donated 300 truckloads of food last year to food banks around New England.

The Rutland location is the 140th store in the Rhode Island-based discount retailer chain. The store has about 40 employees, most of them part-time.

“We’re still looking for people — I’d say five to 10 more,” Couras said.

At a glance, it looks similar to a Walmart or a Big Lots. Couras said the main differences are pricing and quantities.

“When we buy something ... we’re going to have pallets upon pallets upon pallets,” he said.

Couras also touted the selection of dry and canned foods, which ranged from giant jars of pickles to more esoteric snack foods.

“There’s some stuff you don’t find in other spots,” he said. “You’re going to find different kinds of sardines. Sometimes we have caviar. We never know what’s going to come off the truck.”

He also said the store wasn’t fully stocked as of Monday afternoon.

“We’re at 80% filled,” he said. “That’s why we do the soft opening. We’ll be at full by the 13th when we do our celebration.”

gordon.dritschilo@rutlandherald.com

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