An expanding economy and growth in home improvement spending has created a boom in new furniture and appliance stores in the Miami Valley.
Within just a few months of each other, five new furniture stores will open in the Dayton area, stretching from Beavercreek to Miami Twp. The stores are filling massive retail spaces left vacant by Elder-Beerman, Sears and Toys “R” Us, which departed the Miami Valley in bankruptcy filings over the past 18 months.
As many retailers move to smaller format stores and close locations as consumer shopping habits shift and e-commerce sales grow, not many stores can fill the large boxes — some as big as 100,000 square feet.
Furniture stores have filled that void.
“People do spend a lot of time online looking for ideas, but we find that they want to come into a retail store and feel it, touch it see it and get some advice from a professional who can help them make the right choices,” said Rob Klaben, vice president of local Morris Furniture Company.
A Big Sandy Superstore opened Nov. 1 in the former Elder-Beerman box in Miami Twp, Furniture Fair opened its second Dayton-area store in the former Beavercreek Toys “R” Us Saturday, Bob’s Discount Furniture will open early next year in the former Miamisburg Toys “R” Us and The Room Place is expected to open a store at the Mall at Fairfield Commons and another at the Dayton Mall within the coming months.
“We’re very excited about being in Beavercreek and it’s something we have looked for and we keep expanding in this area and further south into Louisville,” said Edward Hartman, Furniture Fair marketing director.
With major renovations come furniture upgrades, especially in a healthy economy, said Larry Klaben, president and CEO of Morris Furniture Company.
“Dayton itself is seeing some improvement in the economy where if I look back 20 years, like the year 2000..we expanded into Cincinnati and Columbus because their economies were more stable,” Larry Klaben said.
In Clark County, an old furniture store came back to life in October when Jim Miller Furniture reopened. The store closed nearly three years ago after Miller died and the building was sold with the estate. Jim Miller’s son Jeff Miller restarted the family business last month at 2960 Dayton Road.
“What we offer is unique to this area,” Jeff said. “People can come and pick out a fabric or a style. They can have it built the way they want. They can watch it being made.”
The new openings add to more than a dozen other existing furniture stores, including Morris’s two local Morris Home stores, two outlet locations and two Ashley HomeStore shops. There are also Furniture City, Dayton Discount Furniture, King’s Funiture Superstore, Furniture City, American Freight Furniture and Mattress and Furniture Express locations.
But many furniture stores have also failed in the Dayton area, which is part of what paved the way for new stores to move in, said Robert Vanhoose, CEO of southern Ohio-founded Big Sandy Superstore.
“We are very familiar with Dayton. We knew of the Roberds operation there …We basically do the same business model — one-stop shopping furniture, appliance, televisions and mattresses — that he was very successful with and no one has been able to duplicate since he went out of business,” Vanhoose said.
Sears also left the appliance market open in Dayton when it departed the Miami Valley early this year and Elder-Beerman Furniture closed more than a year ago.
“We saw that as an opportunity along with hh gregg going out and there’s really not a strong independent appliance retailer there that does their own service,” Vanhoose said.
In the 1990s, there were as many as 18 to 20 big box retailers, Larry Klaben said.
“Between 2000 and 2010, a lot of those companies left the market…There’s been a lot of growth in furniture retail throughout. We’re seeing some of that all happen at the same time right here in the Dayton market,” Larry Klaben said.
But the Klabens said they, as an established Dayton-area furniture company, welcome the competition. In major markets with many furniture retailers furniture sales as a percent of consumer spending is higher, and Larry Klaben said the same will happen in Dayton.
Instead of the boom of new stores cutting into sales for existing stores, the competition will draw more customers.
“This will just in our opinion bring a little higher emphasis to consumer spending on the home,” Larry Klaben said.
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