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Knoxville Wholesale Furniture to open largest showroom

 An artist’s rendering shows how a newly acquired building will look after it is renovated to become Knoxville Wholesale Furniture’s largest showroom.An artist’s rendering shows how a newly acquired building will look after it is renovated to become Knoxville Wholesale Furniture’s largest showroom.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville Wholesale Furniture has acquired the former Fowler's Furniture location on Peters Road here and will be renovating it for what will become the retailer's largest showroom.

The retailer says it's investing more than $10 million in the project, including the purchase of and upgrades to the 122,000-square-foot facility, which sits on eight acres at Knoxville's busiest Interstate 40 interchange.

When it opens in the first quarter of next year, the store will replace the four-store retailer's 70,000-square-foot West Knoxville showroom about two miles away on Parkside Drive.

"My team and I have traveled the whole country visiting the best of the best to hopefully create the finest furniture store possible," said Tim Harris, president of the family-owned business.
Among the stores the retailer visited were Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., Homemakers Furniture in Des Moines, Iowa, and Jackson, Miss.-based Miskelly Furniture.

Harris said the store will be filled with new features and amenities, only some of which he was ready to share. Here's what he could say now:

A new 15,000-square-foot "decompression zone" entry area will feature a skylight, a stacked stone fireplace and an 80-inch television where the retailer will play a message explaining the store's mission.

The idea, Harris said, is to create a "very female friendly" environment, where consumers aren't set on by a salesperson the minute they enter. Instead, they can orient themselves at their own pace while perusing an area Harris said will be packed with hundreds of eclectic furniture pieces and more than $1 million in decorative accessories from around the world. A rug gallery in the area will feature Nourison and other brands, he added.

Home accents, including lighting, rugs and wall art, as well as accent and other furniture pieces (rather than collections) are a growing part of Knoxville Wholesale's business, and in the new store, the goal is to push these segments up to 15% to 20% of total sales, he said.

Harris wouldn't disclose projected sales figures for the new store, but said the company expects to double the volume it's currently doing at the West Knoxville location the store will replace. The goal, the company said, "is to become a destination for furniture shopping within 250 miles."

Knoxville Wholesale Furniture, operates four area stores, including an Ashley Furniture HomeStore and an 110,000-square-foot clearance center, and did about $39.9 million in sales last year, according to Furniture/Today estimates. The new store will boost its total store footprint to 350,000 square feet from about 300,000 square feet today.

Customers and store employees will be able to relax in an indoor/outdoor café, featuring big screen televisions, music and indoor and outdoor dining, with the indoor tables placed near windows that overlook a patio.

Also for the first time, Knoxville Wholesale is creating a custom order upholstery studio. The roughly 8,000-square-foot space will feature more than 3,000 fabric options and brands such as Thomasville, Flexsteel, Klaussner, Broyhill and Craftmaster's Paula Deen Home. The plan is to deliver custom goods within 30 days of the order.

The retailer will broaden its youth bedroom department into a Kids and Teens area in the new store, featuring more styles "that can grow with them into their teens," it said in a release.

Other product category areas will include a mattress gallery featuring Serta, Tempur-Pedic and Restonic, and an area in the center of the store dedicated to more than 120 motion, stationary, and leather living room settings, including occasional tables and entertainment furniture. Sources will include Flexsteel, Klaussner, Broyhill, Ashley, Jackson, Craftmaster, Lane, Southern Motion, Cheers, Albany, Corinthian and Sunny Designs.

Some of the previously named suppliers also will be featured in a Best of Bedroom area along with goods from Liberty, Elements, Standard, New Classics and Largo.

In addition to category displays, several suppliers will have branded galleries, including Thomasville, Kincaid, Flexsteel, Klaussner, Hooker, A.R.T., Ashley and Furniture Source.

The Paula Deen Home collection will have its own gallery, too. Harris said Knoxville Wholesale has had great success with the product from Craftmaster and Universal, adding that the new case goods in the collection were the best he saw in High Point this past month.

Finally, a Super Sale area in the new store will be a departure from the typical clearance center, Harris said.

"We will have clearance items but also special purchases from factories that need to get rid of overstocks and some super value priced room packages," he said, including promotional living room and table packages. "We want the store to have something for everyone."

The new store is near an affluent area of Knoxville, and Harris said that while he expects to attract those consumers with the store's custom order studio and higher-end goods, "We don't want to ignore people who are just starting out."

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