HARKER HEIGHTS — Signs are up and space is leased on the west end of Market Heights for the value-based variety store Five Below, a national chain.

One of 18 Five Belows set to open in Texas in 2013, the 8,000-square-foot store will open Aug. 2, the same day as three Austin stores, marking the chain’s entrance into the Texas market, said Elizabeth Romaine, director of marketing operations.

Between Ross and Dick’s Sporting Goods, the new Five Below will be the only one in Bell County.

“We’ve been looking to expand into the Texas market,” Romaine said. “We were able to identify Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth as areas we were able to open.”

Five Below signed a 10-year lease with Direct Development, Market Heights’ development company, said Direct Development Managing Principal David Watson. While he declined to specify Five Below’s rent rate, he said space in Market Heights usually leases for about $25 a square foot.

The stores mostly operate in 12 East Coast states, although the chain also does business in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan and West Virginia.

Everything sells for $1 to $5 in the store, which markets to teens and pre-teens, Romaine said. “We’re like a five-and-dime for the iPhone generation.”

The store could be “out of the way” for driving adolescents to get to, said Killeen resident and shopper Kirk Walters.

Killeen resident Autumn Conley shopped at Market Heights on Monday and peered into the unfamiliar store, which is still getting ready to open.

“I was like, ‘What is that?’ We’ll come by and check it out,” Conley said.

Killeen resident Christina Frieberg spends 70 percent of her shopping time in Market Heights, but the store didn’t pique her interest as she walked past, she said.

“That’s not us,” Frieberg said. “We don’t even own an iPhone. We’re not into gadgets like that, and when we are, we shop online.”

35 new jobs

While the store has hired a general manager and some assistants, it is accepting online applications for 35 positions and will host a job fair from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, during which people can apply in person.

The store should attract new shoppers to Market Heights, which is 97 percent occupied, 37 percent fuller than 2008, its first year, and 7 percent more than one year ago, Watson said. The shopping center has two vacancies, including a 2,000-square-foot space directly adjacent to Five Below.

“They have a wide variety of goods,” Watson said. “It’s a value-oriented proposition that is merchandised in a fun and easy way to shop. ... It’s a welcome addition to that mix that already exists in Market Heights.”

Managers of adjacent and similar businesses are welcoming Five Below.

Along with adult sports players, Dick’s caters to middle and high school-aged kids — the same demographic Five Below markets to — said Assistant Manager James Key.

“The more (young people) they bring, the better for us,” Key said. “It’ll be good for traffic.”

Dollar stores

Namir Gray, manager of Family Dollar at 660 Farm-to-Market 2410, said he supported Five Below’s addition to the market because it might convince shoppers that they can find good values in smaller stores.

“Competition definitely benefits us,” Gray said. “Five Below can show people that you can get good merchandise at a good, low price.”

The 6,500-square-foot FM 2410 Family Dollar partly markets to the same clientele as Five Below, carrying “in-style” products like smartphone accessories, Gray said. His store has the benefit of short lines, and can get people in and out quickly.

“They might go to Five Below because it’s in Market Heights Plaza, but they might live closer to a Family Dollar,” Gray said. “When they realize they don’t have to go to a bigger store to get a good value and don’t have to stand in line, they’ll just come to us.”

“When we get closer to the date, we have a lot of cool things going on with our grand opening,” Romaine said. “It’s a lot different when you step inside it.”

Five Below will open at 201 E. Central Texas Expressway, Suite 2130.

Contact Brian Bradley at bbradley@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567

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