IT WAS hard to tell who was more excited by the official opening of the Stockland upgrade yesterday - the shoppers or the retailers.
On one side of the black curtain that separated Stockland old and new was a crowd of customers anxiously waiting, while on the other side businesses and staff made final touches.
Then at 8am the curtain dropped and the shoppers poured through the complex in waves.
Some were there to shop, while most just wanted to catch a first glimpse of the $116 million redevelopment.
Friends Ann Cossey, Tish Langley and Lynette Andersen, had more than just shopping on their mind.
"I'm here documenting this moment for our files as a part of the town's history," said Ms Andersen, of the Hervey Bay Historical Villiage and Museum.
"I was here for the original opening of Stockland, back when it was Bay Central, about 20 years ago."
"If it gives the young people jobs then we're happy to come here and support it," said Ms Langley.
"I missed the last bit of the (World Cup) soccer to come here so it must be important," she added.
Meanwhile, some stores proved more popular than others. Mexican restaurant Zambrero had queues of customers snaking across the food court.
General manager Karim Messih said the company saw the opportunity to bring something different to Hervey Bay, which was why it chose Stockland for its 50th store.
But it was crowd favourite Kmart that caused the morning chaos, offering face painting and free gift bags for its first customers.
Store manager Rick Heading said he was surprised by how enthusiastically Hervey Bay's first Kmart had been received.
"I actually couldn't believe the amount of people who came through here this morning," Mr Heading said.
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