Grand Opening ceremonies for the new Fallas Department Store in Santa Maria's Town Center began Thursday morning. A marching band, balloons, a large "Grand Opening" banner and several dignitaries attended the event.
The path that led to Thursday's ceremony was long and rocky. After Mervyn's closed in 2008, Santa Maria's town plan called for an 'upscale' store to be located in the Town Center location.
When discount chain Fallas proposed a "flagship" 87,000 square foot store at the site, some city leaders balked after touring a Fallas location in Bakersfield. Politicians came back with concerns about shoddy maintenance and unkempt merchandise.
But store leaders pledged to make the Santa Maria location more upscale, leading to a one-vote margin of approval by the City Council. Since then, the store has sponsored job fairs and spent time and money stocking and staffing the site.
Fallas already operates one store in Lompoc, and has more than 200 stores in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Additional stores are planned in Illinois and Florida.
The Santa Maria site is at the corner of South Broadway and East Main Street.
"We are looking forward to being a part of and serving the retail needs of the Santa Maria community. We are committed to providing quality merchandise and name brand items for the entire family at unbelievable prices," said Fallas Senior Vice-President Susan Wempe.
The store plans a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, with other "Grand Opening" activities over the weekend.