DOWNEY - Just in time for the holidays, Kohl's department store at Stonewood Center opened for business Wednesday.About 150-200 shoppers were already lined up before the store opened at 7 a.m. Store manager Gil Ponce was joined by Mayor Mario Guerra and Mayor Pro Tem Anne Bayer in cutting a celebratory ribbon to mark the grand opening. "Now more than ever we need your tax dollars," Guerra told the crowd. Priscilla Gutierrez was one of the first customers in line. Clutching a store flier, she said she planned to buy a digital camera that was marked down in price. "You don't see them this cheap anywhere, unless it's the day after Thanksgiving" Gutierrez said. "I don't know if I'll keep (the camera) or give it to my husband for Christmas." The new Kohl's takes over approximately 83,000 square feet of retail space that was left empty when Mervyn's went bankrupt last year. More than 150 full-time and part-time employees are employed at the Downey Kohl's, Ponce said. The employees were hired in August. "Service is our number one priority here," Ponce said, as he stood at the front entrance and welcomed in the early-bird shoppers. "Everyone who shops here can expect to be greeted with smiles, and they can expect great things." Whitney Wigle, marketing manager for Stonewood Center, said Kohl's will fit perfectly into the Downey community. "Our shoppers have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Kohl's, which we saw first hand Wednesday morning," Wigle said. "The long line of shoppers at 7 a.m. clearly demonstrated that Kohl's is a perfect fit for Stonewood Center and the Downey community." Terry Williams is superintendent of EMJ Corporation, a general contracting company hired by Kohl's to build nine stores in California. (Kohl's opened 37 stores nationwide on Wednesday, including 30 in California.) Williams said demolition work on the Downey Kohl's began in January. Merchandise and displays started going up Aug. 27, giving employees about a month to get the store customer-ready. Ponce, speaking to the early-morning crowd using a megaphone, said Kohl's issued more than $1 million in grants last year, and pledged to donate money to local non-profit organizations. "So if you know of any groups, please let me know," Ponce told the crowd. Guerra leaned over and said, "We'll talk later."
********** Published: October 2, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 24