Hobby Lobby arts and crafts retailer seals deal for big San Jose store

Retailer has been seeking space for some time in the area

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Hobby Lobby has agreed to lease a large portion of its San Jose store space, indicating some signs of economic hope in a bleak landscape for Bay Area retail.

The arts and crafts retailer has completed a comprehensive search for a new location by leasing space at Almaden Plaza, a high-profile shop and restaurant complex in South San Jose.

According to documents on file with the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office, Hobby Lobby has leased 62,000 square feet of “improved retail space” within Almaden Plaza, which is located at 5353 Almaden Expressway.

The retailer is taking over the second-floor space previously occupied by Bed Bath & Beyond, a big-box retailer that declared bankruptcy earlier this year and closed the San Jose location, as well as other brick-and-mortar locations.

“The director of real estate for Hobby Lobby toured the space, and he is tremendously excited about this location,” said Jim Fletcher, the commercial real estate broker who arranged the lease.

The retailer’s nearest other location is a small location in a former Mervyn’s store in Morgan Hill.

“Hobby Lobby had been looking at a whole lot of locations in South San Jose before they chose this one,” Fletcher told the Chronicle.

According to Fletcher, the former Bed Bath & Beyond space totals 78,000 square feet, and Hobby Lobby will be able to expand beyond the 62,000 square feet it leased.

Hobby Lobby’s future location will be adjacent to a Barnes & Noble bookstore and a former Buy Buy Baby ground-floor location. Fletcher hopes to begin marketing the Buy Buy Baby website to prospective tenants soon.

The transaction demonstrates how quickly the retail real estate landscape can change.

“You had some retailers going out and another retailer coming in,” said David Taxin, a partner at commercial real estate firm Meacham Oppenheimer. “That’s how it works sometimes.”

According to county records, Hobby Lobby of Oklahoma signed a 10-year lease. The lease’s start date was not included in public records. According to the real estate documents, Hobby Lobby also obtained the right to renew its lease twice through five-year extensions.

Hobby Lobby’s origins can be traced back to 1970, when the retailer’s founders, David and Barbara Green, started making miniature picture frames in their home.

According to a post on the Hobby Lobby website, the Greens opened their first store, a 300-square-foot retail location in Oklahoma City, in 1972.

Today, “with more than 900 stores, Hobby Lobby is the largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer in the world with over 43,000 employees operating in 48 states,” according to the company’s website.

The company has also sparked considerable debate. Hobby Lobby made headlines in 2014 when the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was not required to provide health insurance coverage for certain contraceptives that the company’s conservative Christian owners objected to on religious grounds.

The county documents did not specify when Hobby Lobby plans to open its new San Jose location. Fletcher estimated that the retailer could be open by the fall of 2024, in time for next year’s Christmas shopping season.

“This is a great location for Hobby Lobby,” said Taxin. “There is a high population density. There are 1.5 million people within 10 miles of the site. Within five miles, there are approximately 650,000 people. That shopping center is extremely busy.”

Almaden Plaza also houses Costco, PetSmart, Trader Joe’s, Ross Dress for Less, T.J. Maxx, and HomeGoods, in addition to Barnes & Noble.

Almaden Plaza has agreed to allow Hobby Lobby’s logo to appear on the shopping center’s large and prominent electronic sign.

“Hobby Lobby is going to hit a home run with this location,” Fletcher went on to say. “They will do phenomenal business.”

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