Chattanooga bargain hunters now have a new option to peruse for deals - the city's first Ollie's Bargain Outlet opens today in Brainerd Village.
The retail chain sells closeout, excess inventory and salvage merchandise to customers at reduced prices.
"When they walk in the door, customers will see all sorts of name brand items with the best prices they've ever seen," John Santora, store opening coordinator, promised. "We have a little bit of everything."
The Brainerd store is just part of a company-wide push to set up shop throughout Tennessee, Santora said. The Pennsylvania-based company already has stores open in Knoxville and nearby Maryville and will open another location in Morristown this year.
The company also is scouting other spots in the state for future stores, Santora said, aiming to continue the company's steady growth. Since the first Ollie's Bargain Outlet was opened in 1982, the chain has grown to include 132 stores in 13 states.
The Brainerd store is celebrating its grand opening today by offering 250 free tickets to take a photo with and receive an autograph from NASCAR star Kevin Harvick. The tickets are being passed out at 7:30 a.m., and Harvick starts signing at 10 a.m.
Ollie's hired about 50 people to work in the store, which is in the old Office Depot building at 5768 Brainerd Road. Santora said it is an ideal spot for the chain's Chattanooga debut.
"We've got nice traffic up and down Brainerd Road, there are some great stores coming in -- an IHOP, a Chick-fil-A," he said. "It's a great location where we think we can bring as much as we possibly can to the greatest amount of people in the area."
The new Chick-fil-A will open in Brainerd Village next week, operator Nick Goebeler said. The restaurant will employ about 80 people and will seat 155 customers.
In honor of the grand opening, Chick-fil-A will give a free year's supply of Chick-fil-A meals to the first 100 adults who camp out on the property from 6 a.m. today to 6 a.m. Thursday, when the doors officially open. Those 100 people will earn 52 free combo meals, Goebeler said.
He added that he's excited to open the stand-alone restaurant in Brainerd Village.
"Brainerd Road is the main artery of Chattanooga," he said. "We feel like it's an underserved part of the city."
The restaurant will include an indoor play area and a double drive-thru.
"We're looking to capture people coming in and out of the city -- we think it will be a busy restaurant," he said. "We expect very heavy drive-thru business."
Property manager Mark Robbins, from Robbins Properties, said the two new stores are drawing other retailers back to Brainerd Village, which was built in 1962.
"We've seen a big pick up in leasing activity since those two came in," he said. "Most of the regional-type retailers moved from the Eastgate area out to Hamilton Place. That exit has been a slow process. The type of tenants that are coming back in are those that thrive in this type of neighborhood."
Jack and Jill Kids Sale, a temporary consignment store that's open for one week twice a year, is setting up in one of the village's 40,000-square-foot anchors this month. The store will be open March 4-8, owner Kelly Blevins said.
"We've been out at Brainerd Village for almost three years now," she said. "It's centrally located, easy to get to and not too far off the beaten path."