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Merinos Home Furnishings buying former mill in Winston-Salem, N.C.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Merinos Home Furnishings is buying an 850,000-square-foot former Hanesbrands textile mill here on Hanes Mill Road for what will become its fourth giant showroom.

The retailer, which opened in Mooresville, N.C., in May 2011 in a former Burlington Mills plant and has been in the process of building out some 1.1 million square feet of showrooms there, will pay about $3.2 million for the 60-acre Winston-Salem site, said owner Michael Bay.

The company has made an initial $600,000 earnest money deposit and expects to close the deal for the full price next March or April, he said.

It's costing much more than Merinos has paid for its other locations ($500,000 for the 119-year-old Mooresville facility, for example) but Bay said the building is a newer, is in a larger market and is just off U.S. Highway 52, about 10 miles north of Interstate 40.

As with his other stores in Jefferson, Ga., Fort Lawn, S.C., and Mooresville, Bay said he will open the Winston-Salem showroom in phases, starting about two months after the closing.

"It's easier on the workers, easier on me, easier on everything, financially as well," he said. "To fill up one million-square-foot mills with this economy ... you have to open it in phases."

Bay projected that when the store is completely built out it could do about $24 million in annual sales. He said the new project will not affect the rollout of additional phases at Merinos in Mooresville.

According to a report by the Winston-Salem Journal, the Hanes plant opened in 1960. Production ceased in 2010 and Hanebrands has been using only part of the building for about 200 employees in research, product development and other operations. They will move to another North Carolina facility by year's end, the report said.

Early this summer, the Winston-Salem City Council approved rezoning of the property from light industrial to general business in preparation for the deal with Bay's company, Concord Development Group.

Asked if he was concerned about having two large furniture stores relatively close together (within about 70 miles), Bay said he's not, and that he has studied the market and believes there are "more than enough" consumers in the area to support two large Merinos, "if you do it right."

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