The 615,000 square foot Ollie’s Bargain Outlet distribution center in Princeton, a project that will create about 200 full-time jobs in the Illinois Valley, is making progress toward its 2024 opening.
A little more than five months after its groundbreaking, project leaders met Tuesday to celebrate a construction milestone.
Representatives from Ollie’s, Arco Design Build and the city of Princeton participated in a topping off ceremony, in which a steel beam is signed by project leaders before it is placed on the roof to signal the next phase of construction.
The facility is expected to be a large part of the company’s growth in the Midwest. The center will serve stores throughout Illinois and surrounding states.
We felt that this community was so much like our company. It made us feel like, we would eventually be hiring 200 people that already understood Ollie’s, had the Ollie’s values and would appreciate being a part of our company like we appreciate being a part of this community.”— Eric Van Der Valk, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ollie's
Arco Design Build Director of Business Development Brian Devlin said that even from his first involvement with this project, Princeton stood out to Ollie’s as a potential future home.
“We did a four-day camel back ride through multiple states and met with every municipality, every utility company and every incentives company along the way,” Devlin said. “Obviously, you can see that Princeton was favored.”
Devlin said after meeting with City Clerk Pete Nelson, City Manager Theresa Wittenauer and Former Mayor Joel Quiram that it became clear to Ollie’s how proud the leaders and community was.
“We felt that this community was so much like our company,” Ollie’s EVP and COO Eric Van Der Valk said. “It made us feel like, we would eventually be hiring 200 people that already understood Ollie’s, had the Ollie’s values and would appreciate being a part of our company like we appreciate being a part of this community.”
Van Der Valk said his team couldn’t believe the progress that had been made on the building in only a few months and about a year after first announcing the partnership with Princeton.
“We say ‘America loves a bargain,’ so we are really happy to be here in the Midwest and have this distribution center to propel our growth in this area,” he said. “This DC will service 150 or more stores primarily in the Midwest.”
To construct the project, Ollie’s has invested $68 million into the project, a figure Van Der Valk said may increase as the project moves along.
“This is an amazing day for everyone that’s played a role in the Ollie’s Midwest expansion,” Ollie’s President and CEO John Swygert said. “Thank you all for your dedication to this project and your partnership, it means a lot to us.”
Swygert said Ollie’s celebrated its 40th anniversary last summer. Earlier in September, the company opened its ninth store in Illinois.
“I am so proud to stand here (Tuesday) and say that this week marks two more huge milestones for Ollie’s,” he said. “With the topping out of this distribution center and the opening of our 500th store (Wednesday) in Iowa City, and entering our 30th state. Pretty good for a company that started in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in 1981.”
Mayor Ray Mabry spoke and thanked those in the city that played a large part in bringing Ollie’s to Princeton including Nelson, Wittenauer, Quiram and many others.
“We are honored and glad to have you here and we are glad to celebrate,” Mabry said.
Mabry also welcomed Ollie’s to Princeton with the presentation of an American flag that will be displayed in front of the distribution center upon its completion.
The eventual opening of the Princeton distribution center will help Ollie’s move toward its goal of more than 1,050 stores nationwide.