• Clint Engel

Bernie & Phyl's Furniture to open 2 stores, including new concept

NATICK, Mass. — Bernie & Phyl's Furniture will open a new full-line showroom and a smaller new concept store called Metro Living at Bernie & Phyl's here as the Boston-area retailer ventures into a higher-end leather and living room store arena.

The Norton, Mass.-based Top 100 company acquired a 34,000-square-foot building — a former Lexington Furniture store — and a 5,000-square-foot building on Route 9. The new stores will be adjacent to each other, share a parking lot and are slated to open next month.

Metro Living will feature higher end, but still value priced, contemporary, transitional and casual lifestyle looks in leather and fabric upholstery and occasional tables, all "a step and a half above" the price points Bernie & Phyl's typically sells, said buyer Mike Guidicianne.

Except for the addition of Stanley for occasional furniture, Bernie & Phyl's is going with new goods from existing suppliers for the new format, including Universal, USA Leather, Klaussner and its Distinctive Designs division and H.M. Richards.

At its main stores, leather sofa prices top out at about $1,400, Guidicianne said. At Metro Living, they'll probably go to $2,400 to $2,500 for custom-order pieces in styles that range from sleek contemporary to what he calls "better-end looks that are livable."

Bernie & Phyl's had added Metro Living in-store departments to several of its showrooms a few years ago, but the concept was never really developed until now, said CEO Larry Rubin.

"We had the name in our pocket, but just never did anything with it," he said. When this real estate opportunity opened up in an area of Boston populated with consumers shopping higher-end goods, the retailer decided to update the concept and "give it a shot," he said.

Rubin, whose family owns and operates the seven-store Boston-area chain, would not disclose the company's investment or projected sales for the new stores. The former Lexington Furniture here was a high-end retailer that owned both properties, he said.

Natick, just west of Boston, is a pocket of the metro area that Bernie & Phyl's hasn't been drawing from, Rubin said. The new stores will give the retailer an opportunity to fill in its coverage under the same advertising umbrella on a strip Rubin called a "retail mecca," with Jordan's Furniture and other competitors nearby.

Though smaller than Bernie & Phyl's other locations, the new main store will feature a wide selection of the midpriced furniture from existing suppliers, including those named for Metro Living as well as Ashley, England, Vaughan, Vaughan-Bassett, American Woodcrafters, Legacy Classic, Largo and Sealy, Stearns & Foster and Bassett in bedding. The acquisition deal included additional property the retailer can use to expand the main store if necessary, Rubin said.

Bernie & Phyl's said it will hire about 20 people to staff the new location.

"We are very excited about opening these two stores in Natick," Rubin said. "We feel it's going to be a great opportunity for us."

Bernie & Phyl's is No. 53 on Furniture/Today's Top 100 with estimated sales of $103.4 million in 2010 at stores in Braintree, Saugus, Westboro, Raynham and Hyannis, Mass., Nashua, N.H., and Warwick, R.I.


Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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