Gardner-White celebrates 100 years, partly with new DC, store
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, April 26, 2012
A rendering shows an entrance to the its 455,000-square-foot corporate office, distribution center and showroom complex Gardner-White Furniture will open in Auburn Hills, Mich., this summer as part of a 100th anniversary celebration.
The Warren, Mich.-based Top 100 company also is expanding its charitable and civic work as part of the centennial tribute, and is planning customer appreciation events throughout the year.
Construction and renovation on the 455,000-square-foot Auburn Hills facility at 4445 North Atlantic Blvd., near Great Lakes Crossing, began in January. The entire facility is expected to be up and running by July or August and will include a modern distribution center, corporate offices and a 90,000-square-foot store and outlet, its largest showroom in the currently seven-store chain.
In a release, Gardner-White President Steve Tronstein indicated more expansion will be coming, saying the company is "going to be making significant investments in the region by expanding to new communities and employing many more local residents. The new Auburn Hills site is the first of these developments."
The 350,000-square-foot distribution center, with 30-foot ceilings, will give the company roughly four times the capacity of its current warehouse, which is 155,000 square feet with 13-foot ceilings, Tronstein told Furniture/Today. He declined to elaborate on the timing or other details of expansion beyond the new complex, an approximately $15 million investment for the company.
Furniture/Today estimates that Gardner-White's sales furniture, bedding and accessories sales grew 6.7% in 2011 to $95 million.
Tronstein said Gardner-White will begin transitioning over to the new distribution center in June.
As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, the retailer also is expanding its charitable and community efforts. A portion of store sales made during a 100th anniversary sale period - April 26 through May 23 - will be donated to build houses for homeless veterans, in cooperation with Volunteers of America, a longtime charity partner of the retailer.
In addition, the company said it donated more than $100,000 in lumber to Habitat for Humanity - wood salvaged from renovations done on the facility - that will be used to build homes for needy families in the Detroit area.
Other new community sponsorships include the Detroit Tigers' Kids Take the Field and Ultimate Fan Experience.
Gardner-White said it also will continue other longstanding initiatives, such as in-store blood drives with the American Red Cross; a Holiday Connection program to support local charities; the Best and Brightest salute to academically successful high school seniors; and the Detroit Public Schools' Adopt a School project.
"Being part of the community we serve is not just a company motto, it's truly who we are and the reason for what we do, and this is the key to Gardner-White's longevity and success," Tronstein said.
Anniversary parties are planned at all stores this Saturday and Sunday. Guests can draw for free prizes that include Gardner-White gift certificates ranging from $25 to $1,000, recliners, sofas and mattresses. There also will be face painting, cupcakes and other family-friendly activities.
A 100th anniversary sale promotion began Thursday and includes discounted merchandise and "hot buys." And online, the retailer is hosting an anniversary contest, where Web visitors are invited to search for 100 cupcakes that have been hidden across its website. Each cupcake found is worth $1 in Gardner-White cash, and consumers who find all 100 receive a $100 Gardner-White gift certificate. Top hunters also are entered into a drawing for a $1,000 Gardner-White gift certificate.
The first Gardner-White opened in 1912 on Mack Street near Mount Elliot in Detroit. In the late 1950s, the company was purchased by Irwin Kahn, whose family still owns and operates the business.
"Kahn's keen retailing expertise, and strong belief in giving customers the best quality shopping experience, laid the foundation for Gardner-White's future expansion across metro Detroit," the retailer said.
The company also said it was the first furniture retailer in Michigan to use TV advertising and was a "whole room package" innovator in the 1960s and '70s.
It also said it was the first furniture retailer in the state to package furniture and brand-name televisions together, in partnership with Best Buy. Gardner-White said the two retailers "will soon be announcing plans to expand their relationship."
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