Stores and entrance at the Dayton Mall
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Morris Furniture snagged mall spaces once earmarked for another store

Chicago-based company confirms it’s no longer coming to Dayton market.

When Morris Furniture officials reached an agreement with the owner of the Dayton Mall and the Mall at Fairfield Commons to open large furniture and mattress showroom stores in each mall, they snagged space that had been leased more than a year by a Chicago-based furniture company The RoomPlace.

But a spokeswoman for The RoomPlace said late Thursday that the company had a change of plans.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Morris Home Furnishings to add stores at both the Dayton and Fairfield Commons malls

“We are not coming to Dayton,” The RoomPlace spokeswoman said. “We determined that expansion into the Dayton market is no longer strategically aligned to our business goals.”

Columbus, Ohio-based Washington Prime Group, owner of the two local malls, had announced its agreement with The RoomPlace with great enthusiasm in July 2018.

In a news release that mentioned “finalized leases” with The RoomPlace at the Dayton Mall and Fairfield Commons, Lou Conforti, CEO of Washington Prime Group, said, “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.”

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: New RoomPlace furniture stores to open at Dayton Mall, Mall at Fairfield Commons (July 2018)

As recently as three months ago, in a Dec. 2, 2019 release, Washington Prime Group said The RoomPlace would “occupy approximately 50,000 square feet” in the Dayton Mall and was expected to open “in the first half of 2020.”

In its announcement earlier this week about Dayton-based Morris Furniture Co. Inc. opening showrooms at both local malls, Washington Prime officials said a Morris Home showroom will occupy about 50,000 square feet near the former Elder Beerman (Bon-Ton) site at the Dayton Mall. At Fairfield Commons, a Morris store will open in the upper level of the former Sears.

“We believe Morris Home is the perfect local fit for Dayton Mall and The Mall at Fairfield Commons,” Kimberly Green, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Washington Prime Group, told this news outlet Wednesday night. “Morris Home has a community-focused history and a strong legacy in the Dayton area.”

>> RELATED: Furniture store boom in Dayton arrives ahead of holiday season (November 2019)

Green noted that The RoomPlace did open a new store at another Washington Prime Group retail property in Lincolnwood, Illinois.

The owners of Morris Furniture — which started in Dayton in 1947 and operates retail showrooms in the Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus and Northern Kentucky markets — seem pleased with the change of plans.

“These two showrooms will allow us to be more convenient than ever before to our loyal customer following,” Larry Klaben, president and CEO or Morris Furniture Co., said this week in a news release.

Rob Klaben, the company’s vice president, said several competing furniture stores have opened in the region, especially around the Dayton and Fairfield Commons malls.

“We wanted to be where our competitors are,” Rob Klaben told the Dayton Daily News. “And we will be the only furniture stores inside those malls.”

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