CHARLOTTE — John Pinson didn’t have to wait in the line wrapping around the Sheraton Charlotte Airport on Friday morning. So he didn’t mind so many people showing up with the same goal – a fresh start.
“This place is packed,” said Pinson, operations director for Charlotte Premium Outlets. “We’ve got close to 500 people, and we just opened 20 minutes ago.”
The hotel hosted 61 retailers Friday who met with job-seekers, interviewing for the more than 900 jobs promised as part of the Steele Creek outlet project. Charlotte Premium Outlets opens July 1 with 90 percent of the tenants signed on. There will be 100 designer and name brand outlet stores.
Hiring will continue through opening, but Friday was an opportunity for potential employees to find the best fit.
Behind the point booth in the grand ballroom, Kelli Gilliam had to catch her breath Friday as applicants filed past.
“I’m going to be worn out,” said Gilliam, Carolinas district manager with Banana Republic Factory Store. “There are a lot of people.”
That was 45 minutes into the job fair.
Deon Williams was one of the fortunate few who didn’t have to circle the hotel parking lot several times, or park on a nearby service road. He planned ahead. The Goldsboro, N.C., resident came Thursday with his sister and stayed in the hotel.
“We woke up and walked downstairs,” Williams said.
A job for Williams or his sister could mean a move from Goldsboro, something he sees as an opportunity afforded by the new outlet mall.
“It would be a change for us being in a big city,” Williams said. “It would be something new.”
People came by car Friday. They came by the busload. They came early, and they came with resumes ready.
Joseph Pratt, Lindsey Montgomery and Brittany Reaves came together. The friends each had different retailers they most wanted to visit.
“There’s some stores that we were interested in, more of the sports stores,” Reaves said.
Montgomery and Pratt agreed the networking opportunity was useful, even with stores that might not top their lists.
“There are some stores we really didn’t know what they are,” Pratt said.
Pinson says the interest in working at the outlets will mirror interest among shoppers when it opens. At I-485 and N.C. 160, the outlets will be a “showplace of a shopping center.” He’s confident shoppers and investors will see similar value.
“It’s money well spent,” he said.
For more information, visit premiumoutlets.com. To apply for jobs, visit retailer websites.
John Marks • 803-831-8166