Tractor Supply, Southside Plaza to hold re-opening
SANFORD — With yet another store reopening in Lee County’s Southside Plaza this Saturday, the end to some of the most visible signs of the destruction caused by the deadly tornado that struck the area a year and a half ago is drawing closer.
Big Lots held its grand opening two weeks ago, and this Saturday will mark the grand opening for Tractor Supply, as well as a ceremony for the plaza as a whole. In addition to some smaller businesses, the Food Lion in the plaza has been open for some time, and manager Donald Long told The Herald earlier this month he hired more people in anticipation of the neighboring large retailers reopening.
“It is so good to have Tractor Supply back,” Bob Joyce, president of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday. “They were a great part of our business community before the tornado, and it took a while to get all the details worked out, but it is just so good to see them open again.”
From 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Tractor Supply and its neighbors will celebrate with a host of musical acts and other attractions that will turn the area into more of a festival than a shopping center.
Six bands have been booked to provide entertainment, and there will be visits from Santa, a bull from the Professional Bull Riders, a petting zoo from the Aloha Zoo and a group of classic cars. There will also be a lawnmower giveaway and a fighter jet fly-over.
“This’ll be one of the largest crowds for a ribbon cutting in Lee County for a long time,” Joyce said. “... This will set a high bar for other companies in the county. I don’t know if every business will be able to do the promotion to do a ribbon cutting with this kind of setup and this high attendance, but it really tells you about this company and that they care about their customers and want to bring new customers in.”
Mike Hubbard, assistant manager at Tractor Supply, said he’s expecting a large crowd for both the festivities and the special promotions the store will be offering Saturday.
“We’re going to have a good sale, this store only, big grand opening kind of thing,” he said Thursday.
Crystal Morphis, founder and CEO of Creative Economic Development Counseling, which has been hired to direct the Lee County Economic Development Corporation, said she hadn’t heard of the event or the stores opening up, but that it sounded like good news.
“Anytime there’s a retail establishment that opens, it helps draw people into Sanford,” she said. “So any time you have a reopening like that, it kind of solidifies your reputation as a retail hub.”
One of the other large retailers in the plaza, Dunham’s Sports, will open on Friday, Dec. 7. Representatives for two clothing stores on site, Cato Fashions and It’s Fashion Metro, couldn’t be reached by phone or in person but appeared to have work yet to be done.