The new 715,000 square foot distribution center of retailer Five Below has taken shape in the industrial park off I-75 at Rumble Road, and Five Below is now hiring employees to staff the new facility. It held a Job Fair at Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Jan. 23 and welcomed about 370 applicants.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” said Five Below General Manager Eric Kooy. “There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I feel like we can build a great team.”

Five Below created a positive atmosphere for those applying at the Job Fair with banners, balloons and signs. Kooy stood at the door greeting applicants and ushering them into the building as quickly as space was available. The company took the opportunity to introduce itself and its products to the community with displays of some of its wares at the Job Fair.

Five Below has about 650 stores in 32 states, including about 25 in Georgia, but it has not had a presence in Middle Georgia and many locals were not familiar with the company when it announced plans to build a distribution center in Monroe County. Kooy said that is changing now since Five Below is opening a store in Macon off Bass Road. The company will advertise in the area and local shoppers will soon know more about the company and what it has to offer.

Five Below is billed as the “five-and-dime store for today’s youth” with items like toys, games, home decor, T-shirts, jewelry, book bags and countless more all for $5 or less. The Philadelphia-based company was founded by David Schlessinger, founder and creator of Encore Books and Zany Brainy, and Tom Vellios of Zany Brainy.

The Human Resource Manager for Forsyth, Leia Gatliff, said that applicants came to the Job Fair from as far as McDonough to the north and Fort Valley to the south, but most were from Monroe County and Bibb County. She said that applications are being reviewed, and all applicants will be contacted by telephone or email. Applicants were asked to indicate interest between six positions; some checked only one and some checked all six. Positions available in Forsyth include drivers, receivers, receiving clerks and unloaders, among others.

The Forsyth distribution center will eventually employ about 130 people. Gatliff said training will start in March for some employees and in April or May for others. Five Below will keep all applications on file. 

“We try to take care of our applicants and give them a better experience than they might have with some employers,” said Gatliff. “We’re excited to share Five Below.”

Kooy said Five Below is growing and hopes to expand its operation in Forsyth in the future. 

“I appreciate the support we have received from the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority. It’s a fantastic partnership,” said Kooy. “I appreciate the local media, too. I’m very pleased with the supportive nature of the environment. I have confidence that the community will support continued growth and expansion.”