By LANDON WOODROOF
It was Friday morning and dozens of people were lined up outside the Alumni Hall store in Hill Center Brentwood waiting for it to open for the first time.
The grand opening was set for 10 a.m., and the expectant crowd was ready to buy some of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville related products and apparel on offer at this 26th location of the Alumni Hall chain.
As people waited outside, shaded from the already sweltering sun by neighboring buildings, Alumni Hall owner Jeff Goodfriend walked around handing out “mystery” gift cards, ranging in price from $10 to $100.
Emma Howell, 8, got the first card. Friday was her birthday, and she had told her mom, Susan, that she wanted to be the first in the store. They got there a little before 9.
Susan and Emma were at the store with Emma’s dad, Steve, and younger sister, Sadie, 3. The family had driven in to the area from West Tennessee the day before so Emma could visit the local American Girl store. While here, Susan found out about the Alumni Hall grand opening on Facebook, and the family decided to stick around. They are big U.T. fans and often stop in the Knoxville Alumni Hall store when going to games.
Emma was holding an orange and white pom pom that an Alumni Hall employee had given her for her birthday. She said she was hoping to buy a shirt once the doors opened.
“We can never have too much orange can we?” Susan asked rhetorically.
Goodfriend said Alumni Hall has its biggest partnership with the UT. He thought Brentwood was a natural place to expand to.
“We’re real excited to be in Brentwood,” he said. “There’s a huge Tennesse fanbase and alumni base here and we aim to please.” Goodfriend is an alum of the school himself.
He said that when he found out about Hill Center Brentwood the space seemed like a great fit.
“We like the area. We wanted to do somewhere fresh and new,” he said. “This is a great location we thought for kind of a central store” in the Nashville area.
Alumni Hall joins a host of other stores that have opened at Hill Center Brentwood in recent months, including Fab’rik, Hemline, Dress Up, Paper Source and francesca’s. With the opening of Alumni Hall, there are only a few stores left to open in this phase of the Hill Center Brentwood complex. Those include Sur la Table, which is expecting to open in mid-August and the restaurant Chop’t, which is anticipating an opening late in the year, said Amy Kovar, who handles public relations for Hill Center Brentwood.