• Clint Engel

Larrabee's Furniture & Design opens new Colorado store

 A Moroni leather Chesterfield sofa marries traditional and modern looks in the casual contemporary area of the new Larrabee’s Furniture & Design. The sofa sits under a display of art glass from Cyan Designs.A Moroni leather Chesterfield sofa marries traditional and modern looks in the casual contemporary area of the new Larrabee’s Furniture & Design. The sofa sits under a display of art glass from Cyan Designs.

DENVER — Larrabee's Furniture & Design is back in Colorado.

Scott and Carolyn Larrabee, industry veterans who had briefly retired from the business in 2010, have opened a new 48,000-square-foot showroom in the former Kacey Fine Furniture flagship store on East County Line Road here.

The couple is leasing the space for an upper midpriced store, featuring home furnishings across a wide style spectrum but with an emphasis on casual contemporary - something Scott Larrabee said has been missing at this price range since Kacey closed in late 2010.

Click here to view more photos of the store.

He estimated the project is a $3.5 million investment and is projecting annual sales in the $8 million to $10 million range. The store will start off employing 18 salespeople, including 15 interior designers.

Denver, Larrabee said, is a fairly conservative and traditional leaning market. Some retail players have been "taking little bit and pieces" of the more modern niche since Kacey - and before that, Homestead House - exited the market, but he said he sees a bigger opportunity in the category.

"Probably half of our store will be what I call casual contemporary, very fashion forward," he said, noting that it will feature lines such as Four Hands and Schnadig's Caracole brand.

Other key suppliers include the more traditional Kincaid, which will be featured in a dedicated gallery setting, as well as Norwalk, Universal, Rowe Furniture, Lexington Home Brands, Rachlin Classics, Barcalounger, Broyhill, Cresent Fine Furniture and Our House, a custom leather upholstery line.

Fabric sofas will start at about $799 from Broyhill and top out at about $2,999 - before custom options - for a sofa from Caracole or Norwalk.

Larrabee's also is dedicating about 7,000 square feet to an outdoor furniture area, featuring suppliers such as Woodard, Hanamint, Gensun, Agio International, Meadowcraft and Pride Family Brands.

In bedding, the store will carry Kingsdown, Serta and Therapedic.

While the name is new to Denver, the Larrabee family has operated furniture stores in the Colorado for most of the past 50 years, starting with a store in Boulder that Scott's father, Lee Larrabee, bought in 1962 and later renamed Larrabee's.

In 1974, father and son opened Larrabee's Valley Furniture in Fort Collins, Colo., north of Denver. Scott Larrabee later bought out his father's interest and moved to a former JCPenney space, where Larrabee's Home Furnishings Center operated until 2000.

Larrabee and his wife returned the next year with Patio & Dining Lifestyles, an outdoor specialty store in Fort Collins, which they ran with former Larrabee's mangers until it closed in 2010.

The couple considered opening a new furniture business in Arizona and later Fort Collins, but was approached about the Kacey showroom. Kacey had spent about $1 million on renovations to the store, which was one of the biggest selling points, Larrabee said.

"Kacey had a good reputation and no one had stepped in to replace what they had done, so really it was good positioning," he said.

Even in 2010, when Larrabee wasn't in business, he continued to shop home furnishings markets in High Point, Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas, so he knew what he wanted long before the doors opened. That included lots of bold colors as well as heavily accessorized vignettes, including large pieces of art and other accents from sources such as Uttermost, Global Views and Cyan Designs.

"We're taking a short markup on them because we feel they will drive a lot of traffic to the store and also attract the designer market," Larrabee said.

Click here to view  photos of the store.

The store was receiving great reactions even before its March 1 soft opening, from consumers who worked their way in for purchases as well as from vendor representatives.

"There are sold tags all over the store," Larrabee said, adding that after emailing an invitation to the opening preview party, the store had received more than 80 responses within the first hour from consumers and friends saying they would attend. Local police were planning for 300 to 500 cars on opening day.

"Factory (reps) are saying not only is the look refreshing, it's refreshing to see someone coming into the business," he said.

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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