WARNER ROBINS -- Kissing its Centerville mall location goodbye, Kay Jewelers will open its doors to the companys first free-standing location across the street in Warner Robins.
Not trying to speak bad about the mall, but we saw an opportunity to have a better presence in the market and jumped on it, said Edie Weintraub, broker for Kay Jewelers Georgia locations.
While the Houston County Galleria loses a national jeweler, the new 3,200-square-foot building opening Friday is an exciting first for Kay and a positive sign for the local economy, according to at least one city official.
Were really excited, Weintraub said. We, traditionally, are in the malls or next to a Target.
Kay Jewelers has been in the Warner Robins area for 19 years, Weintraub said. The national jeweler also has locations at the Macon Mall, opened in 1990, and in The Shoppes at River Crossing, opened in 2008.
The unique Warner Robins location, on Watson Boulevard near South Houston Lake Road, sits in the same parking lot as the new Academy Sports + Outdoors store that opened late last year. Its an area where new restaurants opened in 2012 as well.
It speaks to the strength of the market, Weintraub said of the attraction to the spot.
Warner Robins City Councilman Mike Brashear agreed. He said though there are some businesses that didnt renew their business licenses this year, the new stores and restaurants are encouraging.
Were starting to see some turnaround in getting some new businesses to invest and come into our city, he said.
The city also is hoping to extend the development down the entire Watson Boulevard corridor, and along North Houston Road and North Davis Drive, Brashear said.
Weintraub said a combination of a strong local market and the opportunity for more visibility led to the new Kay location.
Houston County Galleria representatives did not return a call for comment. According to the malls website, about 50 stores -- including three jewelry stores -- remain in the mall.
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.