The line outside Dunham’s Sports stretched well over 100 deep when the Michigan-based sporting goods retailer opened just before 9 a.m. Friday.
Duke Edwards of Armuchee was first in line, hoping to take advantage of sales on ammunition.
“I wanted to be first in line to make sure I got my ammo,” Edwards said.
Dennis Vance and Clyde Cook, both of Rome, held the second and third spots outside the Mount Berry Square mall store. They both said they wanted to browse the offerings and take advantage of any bargains.
General Manager Nick Abshier — a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan from Indiana — told his associates and the waiting customers that he couldn’t think of any place in the Dunham’s system that he’d rather be.
“This is our first store in the state of Georgia and we are extremely excited for the opportunity to serve the wonderful community of Rome,” Abshier said.
Rome Mayor Evie McNiece was on hand to cement the welcome evidenced by the crowd.
“We appreciate the dedication that you have to this city, we appreciate the job opportunities and we certainly appreciate the shopping opportunities here,” she said.
Once the store opened, the hunting and outdoors section filled up quickly, with lots of people looking for deals on ammunition and weaponry from rifles to crossbows.
Coles Hull, marketing executive for Hull Storey Gibson Co., said the mall owners were thrilled with the opening of Dunham’s, which has kick-started momentum toward turning around the mall.
“We feel like we are headed in the right direction,” Hull said.
Dunham’s fills an anchor location facing Martha Berry Highway that has been vacant for close to a decade.
Abshier said he already has hired 30 part-time associates along with five full-time management-level employees. Dunham’s is still hiring and Abshier said he would like to get up to at least 50 associates before too long.