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TJ Maxx/Home Goods opens in Cottage Grove

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Operations manager Angie Zschokke briefs the staff prior to the Oct. 28 grand opening of TJ Maxx/Home Goods in Cottage Grove. William 2 / 6
Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest Ambassador Sicilya Knott and her mother, Gretchen, walk the aisles at the Home Goods store after the Oct. 28 ribbon cutting at Gateway North. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 6
Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey cuts the ribbon at the Oct. 28 grand opening of the new TJ Maxx/HomeGoods in Gateway North. At left are the Strawberry Fest ambassadors, city councilman Steve Dennis and Dave Thiede. At right is Andree Aronson, development director of the Youth Services Bureau and store manager Jon Rose. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 6
Maddie Eichinger of Forest Lake browses the Rae Dunn pottery display at the Oct. 28 grand opening of TJ Maxx/Home Goods in Cottage Grove. She camped overnight with her mother, Angela, so they could get a first crack at the limited edition collection of handmade plates and mugs. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 6
Annastasia Mason of Minnetonka was among the first shoppers at the grand opening of TJ Maxx/Home Goods in Cottage Grove. She loaded up on pieces of Rae Dunn pottery, a collection of handmade, limited edition mugs and dishes and vases. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 6 / 6

COTTAGE GROVE — TJ Maxx/HomeGoods celebrated its grand opening Sunday, Oct. 28 in Cottage Grove. The 40,000-square-foot complex is the off-price retailer’s first dual site in Minnesota.

In a scene reminiscent of Black Friday, shoppers waited in line in the predawn chill, huddling for warmth as they were dive bombed by slashing wind and rain.

Inside TJ Maxx, city officials, local business owners, company representatives and politicos mingled with Strawberry Fest ambassadors and employees in red T-shirts who waited to begin their first shift.

The two businesses will employ at least 110 people, TJ Maxx store manager Jon Rose said.

For Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey, cutting the ribbon marked the end of a long effort that must have sometimes seemed quixotic.

“It’s exciting for our community,” Bailey said. “It’s funny to hear how many people are truly passionate about TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. “We’re happy to have some amenities that everyone loves.”

The opening comes almost exactly 10 years after former tenant Home Depot closed its doors, leaving a 100,000-square-foot vacancy that the city struggled to fill. It caps a turnaround for the declining mall that began last year when Hy-Vee opened a 98,000-square-foot supermarket, Starbucks and sit-down restaurant. That space had been vacant since Rainbow Foods closed in July 2014.

Two vacancies remain. Bailey hinted that other businesses might be filling those soon.

“We’ve been working on this site for 10 years,” councilman Dave Thiede said. “It’s been such a challenge to get it to come to fruition. We’ve had to be a little creative.”

In 2016, the city bought Home Depot for $2.25 million and sold it for $1.95 million to development group EBL&S.

Angela Eichinger and her daughter Maddie drove down from Forest Lake the night before. They slept in their car with friend Annastasia Mason, who lives in Minnetonka.

They’d come to browse HomeGood’s stock of Rae Dunn pottery, a collection of handmade cups, plates and vases.

“They’re limited pieces and we came for the Christmas collection,” Angela Eichinger said.

City Councilman Steve Dennis said he’s happy with the progress in Gateway North.

Next month, workout franchise Planet Fitness will open an 18,000-square-foot facility on the opposite end of the site.

Gateway North is located in the southeast corner of Cottage Grove near the intersection of 80th Street and East Point Douglas Road.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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