Gary Pigg stood in the middle of The Depot at Gibson Mill.
Opening day at the antique and designer mall was as it should have been: customers roaming the wide aisles, vendors putting last-minute touches on their booths.
"When everything gets up and running, it'll be one of a kind," said Pigg, one of the project's five owner/partners. "Everything is beautifully displayed in such a unique setting."
The old mill was once a part of Cannon Mills Co. Now the wide wooden floors and exposed brick provide a backdrop for a variety of furniture and accessories. There are antiques, imports, collectibles and new furniture and well as reproductions.
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"It's a little bit of everything," Pigg said. "We're doing vintage. We're gonna keep it high-end, yet at reasonable prices."
In the current economy, Pigg continues, "Everybody's looking for a deal. As far as a venue, you couldn't ask for a better place to do it."
During the past several years, the old mill has been reclaimed for use and is home to offices, a construction company, the Auto Barn and the Vintage Motor Club. Plans include the addition of a restaurant.
"We want to make this a destination point, to bring people in from all over," Pigg said.
The Depot at Gibson Mill had its grand opening March 1 after opening for business Feb. 1. There's room for more than 400 vendors, although a vendor may take more than one spot.
All booths were leased out within three days of opening, according to George "Jock" Liles Jr., one of the four partners who owns Gibson Mill in its entirety. Liles also has an interest in the Depot. Some 130 vendors are in place.
Altogether, three buildings are on the premises, Liles says.
Two of them, with 500,000 square feet, are being used for warehouse and manufacturing space. The third, with 180,000 square feet, is devoted mainly to office and retail space. That's where the Depot has opened.
With partners Tom Cotter, Joe Liles and Trey Barnette, Liles acquired the property in 2004.
"When it came on the market, I saw it to be a lot of potential opportunity," said Liles, a Concord native who often drove past the old mill. "Each of the partners has a venture here. From there, we have gradually evolved."
With 20-foot ceilings, the Depot has a spacious, open feel. Tall windows line one wall, allowing sunlight to pour in.
The Cabarrus Creamery and the S&D Coffee Shop plan booths in the rear seating area, where shoppers can take a break and watch television if they choose.
The second part of the mall will be a design center, with vendors exclusive to the Depot.
So far, about a dozen vendors have committed to that space. Their offerings will include outdoor landscaping, outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, decorative concrete, custom kitchen cabinets, hardwood floors, Oriental and Persian rugs, closet organizers, glass showers, drywall and paint.
Pigg notes that the building is in excellent shape. Workers are making a few cosmetic changes out front, installing wrought-iron railing and new doors and windows.
"It seems to be very well received," Liles said. "I am very pleased with the level of enthusiasm we've received so far."