The new 715,000-square-foot Five Below distribution center held a Grand Opening and kick-off for its busy holiday season on Saturday, Oct. 19. The giant facility in the Monroe County Industrial Park just off I-75 Exit 181 at Rumble Road now employs about 200 people.
Following its motto of “Let go, have fun,” Five Below invited company and community leaders to the Grand Opening but gave a special invitation to employees to bring their families to see where they work and enjoy an afternoon of games, gifts, music, food and treats. Children were especially welcome to try their skills throwing basketballs and footballs, stacking boxes, painting and creating keepsakes, petting a llama and picking a special gift from some of the 7,000 products the Center ships.
Eric Kooy, General Manager of the Georgia Ship Center, and Rich Tannenbaum, Senior VP of Global Supply Chain for Five Below, cut the ribbon provided by Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce to declare the Distribution Center open. The Center began shipping items to Five Below’s 268 stores in the Southeastern U.S. this Spring and is now ready for the busiest eight weeks of its year. For the holiday season it will run two shifts, a primary shift from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and a peak shift from 4:30 p.m.-1 a.m. The “elves” of Five Below will be using state-of-the-art equipment like the conveyor belts that transport products all around the building, the shoe sorter that moves over 600 per minute and the scanner that directs items to an assigned cart and then to a lane that represents a store destination.
Kooy said it was appropriate that the Grand Opening fell on a day of heavy rain after over a month of dry weather in Monroe County because the facility had battled 70 days of rain and resulting delays during its construction but had succeeded in opening on time. He thanked IDI Logistics and the company’s other construction partners who made it happen, including Monroe County, Forsyth and the Monroe County Development Authority.
Kooy thanked the employees and said Five Below considers its employees family. He pointed to 100 stakes that hold the names of the original team members at the Georgia Ship Center. These employees worked to label racks and set up the Distribution Center before shipping began. He said a tree will be planted on the property in recognition of each of them.
Kooy said Five Below, a retailer dedicated to providing ‘tweens and teens with recreational items at reasonable costs, now has $1.5 billion in annual sales at over 750 stores in 33 states and is growing rapidly. He said Five Below wants to make shopping in its stores a little treasure hunt with unlimited possibilities. Kooy said the new Ship Center in Monroe County has the capacity to grow to serve 500 stores.
“We are so excited about this project, this facility,” said Tannenbaum on behalf of the Five Below organization. “It takes an entire village to make this happen on time and on budget. Thank you to Eric [Kooy] and his leadership team for the long hours and the effort they’ve given. They are part of something that will endure for decades.”
As well as games, activities, cotton candy and music in the warehouse space of the Georgia Ship Center, those attending the Grand Opening were invited to the front break room for a hot dog lunch and ice cream provided by Forsyth Scoops Gourmet Coffee & Sweets. Scoops offered a choice of six or seven flavors, from pumpkin to salted caramel truffle. Around the break room were videos from the Five Below national management leadership, known as the ‘Wow Team,’ congratulating Ship Center employees and the Forsyth community on the opening of the new Distribution Center.
The spacious break room with table, booth and bar seating and rows of microwaves and vending machines, is one of three break rooms in the building. They are placed to be convenient to employees in different parts of the large facility and “designed to be fun and relaxing.”
Jon Bednarczyk was part of the team greeting everyone at the Grand Opening with a smile at the tables of Five Below products where one could pick an item to take home. As a principal of CCS Partners, he was beaming with pride because he was a part of bringing the Georgia Ship Center into being. He said construction began in May 2018, and the first products were shipped out in June 2019. He has worked with building Five Below’s other Distribution Centers, too. Compared to the 715,000 square feet in Forsyth, which is designed so that it can expand to one million square feet, there is a 600,000 sq. ft. Center in Mississippi, a one million sq. ft. Center in New Jersey and an 858,000 sq. ft. Center underway in Texas and “more to come.”
“There is cool branding. They make it fun,” said Bednarczyk.
There is a new Five Below Retail store at 1625 Bass Road in Macon. There is also a Five Below store at 1550 Georgia Highway 20 in McDonough.