Those perplexed by a chain that sells containers will have a chance this weekend to see what the big deal is when Nebraska’s first Container Store opens at Westroads Mall on Saturday. (Of course, organizational junkies are welcome, too.)

The store, which will open on the south side of the mall in the former food court space, offers more than 11,000 products to help people save space and time in all areas of the home.

The store is organized into 16 sections, including kitchen, bathroom, laundry, shelving, hooks, office, travel and gift wrapping. The Coppell, Texas, chain also sells two different custom-built closet systems — the more affordable elfa system and TCS, which has higher-end finishes.

Products span from closet organization (the Container Store’s best-selling section — think hangers and shoe boxes) to luggage, drawer organizers, reusable water bottles and a selection of more than 90 garbage cans, spokeswoman Elaine Luce said. The store also sells good, old-fashioned dairy crates at $9.99 each.

Many of the products can be used in a variety of ways. Take, for example, the chain’s clear plastic shoe boxes, Luce said. Customers might purchase them for shoes or to store pictures, cards, keepsakes or even a collection.

“Multi-function has been the key to our success,” Luce said.

The first Container Store, opened in 1978 in Dallas, was filled with products sold commercially that weren’t available to consumers: things like wire drawers, mailboxes and popcorn tins, commercial-grade trash bins, burger baskets and milk crates.

That idea has lived on. The Omaha store, for example, has a large selection of Amac acrylic boxes sold in just about every size and color. They can be used to store jewelry, as a pill box, or even a vase or gift box. There’s also Nalgene leak-proof plastic travel bottles, which are the same quality as those used in commercial laboratories, Luce said.

A perk: The store offers in-store pickup for online orders, with designated parking spots out front. Customers can order online, select in-store pickup, call the store when they arrive and an employee will bring the order out to the car.

The chain has an almost cult following among shoppers, but it’s popular with its employees, too. Thirty-five people were hired to work at the new Omaha store, Luce said. She said almost 700 people applied to work at the store. It has landed on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For several years in a row.

Luce said that’s because, unlike many retailers who put customers above all else, the chain puts employees first: Employees receive about 260 hours of training in their first year, Luce said. Container Store pay is 50 percent to 100 percent higher than the retail industry’s average, and the chain offers benefits to full- and part-time employees. The benefits include health, dental, vision and even pet insurance; paid time off; and hefty discounts on Container Store products.

“We take care of our employees first,” Luce said. “If they feel taken care of, they’re going to project that onto customers.”

Construction on the 25,000-square-foot store began at the start of this year. Westroads relocated the food court at the end of last year and replaced it with Flagship Commons, a food hall with several different concepts operated by Flagship Restaurant Group.

A few hundred customers are expected to line up outside the new Container Store for the Saturday grand opening. Staff will honor a Container Store “superfan” who will get into the store first, golden shopping cart in tow, and will receive a bag of Container Store goodies and a $250 gift card.

The mall will have extra security on hand to help with traffic control, Westroads Senior General Manager Jim Sadler said.

Other big openings at Westroads in the past have included the Cheesecake Factory; the mall’s movie theater; and H&M, which opened in 2014, Sadler said.

“They’re all big deals, and they’re all exciting,” Sadler said. “It’s kind of like having an opening night at a theater.”

paige.yowell@owh.com, 402-444-1414

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