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Industry News

Furniture chain moves into empty mall anchor stores

Its first mall store, in Peoria, Ill., was such a success, furniture chain The RoomPlace is opening three more regional mall units.

Next spring the company will open an 82,000-square-foot showroom in a former Carson Pirie Scott store at Lincolnwood (Ill.) Town Center, and late next summer it will open a 51,000-square-foot store in the 1.4 million-square-foot Dayton Mall. Those will be followed by a 57,000-square-foot store at The Mall at Fairfield Commons, in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio, next fall. That store will take over the upper level of a Sears space.

The RoomPlace operates 27 stores. Its first mall store opened in May, at Northwoods Mall, in Peoria, where both sales and traffic have exceeded expectations, said RoomPlace Chairman Bruce Berman, speaking to Furniture Today. “We have found the strategy of mall locations — with entrances from the parking lot and the interior mall — have led to more traffic than we’ve ever seen at any of our stores before,” he said.

“All of the retailer’s new mall leases, including in Peoria, are deals with real estate investment trust Washington Prime Group”

All of the retailer’s new mall leases, including in Peoria, are deals with real estate investment trust Washington Prime Group. The firm says these are part of its anchor-repositioning strategy and its new focus on diversifying tenancy. “When an outstanding furniture retailer with a venerable 100-year history takes vacated department store space, let’s just say if I were an emoji kind of person, there’d be a smiley face or two illustrating our happiness,” Washington Prime CEO Louis G. Conforti said in a press release.

Before its most recent openings in Peoria and Indianapolis, RoomPlace showrooms typically measured about 30,000 square feet. The mall properties are ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 square feet, according to Berman. These, he said, “really give us a chance to put out our whole assortment.” This is another advantage to the mall strategy, he noted.

“The biggest thing is these malls have traffic,” Berman said. "Mall shoppers visiting other retailers or for entertainment and dining have been curious about the furniture store and are coming in. It’s a reversal of the declining traffic trend many furniture stores have been experiencing.”

By Brannon Boswell

Managing Editor/SCT

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