If you’re looking for work, our friend Leia Gatliff at the new Five Below distribution warehouse in Smarr says they’re hiring to get ready for their Christmas blitz.

Gatliff, who’s in charge of human resources at the warehouse, has already hired 170 employees, 20 of them on salary and the rest are hourly. Gatliff told the Forsyth-Monroe County Kiwanis Club on Tuesday that they’ll add about 100 more to get ready for the December rush.

Gatliff shared some other interesting tidbits about our newest business. The Smarr warehouse currently provides truckloads of merchandise for 202 Five Below stores from south Florida to the west. Among those stores is the new one that just opened in Macon on Bass Road. So now locals can check out a Five Below store and see what it offers. Gatliff explained that her company’s founders envisioned a store where any parent of any income level can take their child inside the store and allow them to choose one item to take home for $5 or less, a.k.a. Five Below. Gatliff said some have described the store as a “fun” Dollar General. Gatliff said Five Below has a company headquarters in Philadelphia where their buyers work hard to get ahead of trends and make sure their stores have the most popular items for young people. In fact she said Five Below deserves part of the credit for fueling the Fidget Spinner craze that swept the nation.

Gatliff said almost all the merchandise comes to the Smarr warehouse from the port in Savannah. And since the port is currently closed due to Hurricane Dorian, Gatliff said it’s been kind of slow at the warehouse until the port reopens.

If the Monroe County Development Authority is looking for someone to testify about this being a business-friendly community, Gatliff is the one. She said the community has been very supportive. In fact, when they started hiring, she was inundated with more than 3,000 applications only from word of mouth and from advertising in the local newspaper, the Reporter.

Moreover, their neighbors in Smarr are always willing to help. Recently the warehouse’s “yard dog” equipment which helps unload trucks went down. That would mean 170 employees would be sitting around with nothing to do. But their neighbors at nearby Gresco loaned them their yard dog and they were able to put 170 workers right back to work.

“There’s just a special spirit in this community,” said Gatliff.

Lineage, a refrigerated warehouse company, has bought property next door for $3.9 million to build its own facility there in Smarr. That means more jobs and more economic activity in Monroe County.

Some people complain about the growth coming to Monroe County. They wish things could stay the way they are. And anyone who has watched the way growth has overrun Henry County would certainly be apphrensive.

But Gatliff, who lives on High Falls Lake, pointed out that she was driving a 3-hour round trip commute to Cobb County every day before she joined Five Below. Eliminating that commute means she and others like her are able to spend more time with their families and in our community. If you look it at that way, then growing our economic base actually HELPS build community and family ties that make small-town life special, rather than hurting them.