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Boston Interiors debuts new store, warehouse

Clint Engel, Tanya Merritte -- Furniture Today, December 27, 2004

Boston Interiors has opened its sixth showroom here, attached to a new distribution center and headquarters that is poising the midpriced, family-owned business for growth.

Initial response to the 12,000-square-foot store has been "very good," said Ken Loring, president and founder of the Boston-area retailer.

Many consumers in neighborhoods around the store are reluctant to travel to Boston Interiors' nearby stores in Brookline and Hanover, he noted.

"Once we were here, they came in right away," he said. "I think it's going to be a good market for us."

The store near Route 24 is part of a new 120,000-square-foot complex for a retailer that has built its reputation on providing midpriced but high-quality goods under the tagline, "Your style ... on a budget."

Loring said the store incorporates the best features of Boston Interiors' other renovated locations (it has stores in the Boston suburbs of Brookline, Natick, Hanover, Westborough and Mashpee), including a smooth traffic flow, open sightlines and sharp, well-lit displays of traditional, casual and contemporary room vignettes. A mix of flooring materials, from a light maple wood finish to a warmer dark cherry, helps set the tone for displays.

The retailer doesn't advertise brands, but key suppliers include Rowe, Vaughan-Bassett and Bauhaus.

Boston Interiors says the new showroom and the efficiencies of a better and bigger distribution center and offices should push sales this year to about $38 million, up from about $30 million in 2003. Next year, the company will look to do more than $40 million, Loring said.

He added that more and more consumers expect immediate or quick delivery — something his stores are better capable of offering now, on goods that aren't custom ordered.

"They want it right away and if we're not set up to do that, we can't make them happy," Loring said. "So we're paying attention to the back end."

It's an important step in a market teeming with Top 100 players, including Jordan's Furniture, Bob's Discount Furniture, Bernie & Phyl's, Domain and Crate & Barrel. Ikea will soon enter the market with a store nearby.

"A larger, more efficient distribution facility gives us the competitive edge you need in this market," Loring said.

Boston Interiors' new high-cubed, 22-door warehouse replaces a smaller facility with five doors, nearly tripling the cubic capacity of the former warehouse and giving the chain room to grow to $70 million to $100 million in sales.

The facility has 10,000 square feet for offices, replacing 1,400 square feet in Brookline, where some employees had to share desks.

Loring, who founded Boston Interiors in 1979 as Boston Bedrooms, is joined in the business by his daughter Meghan Loring Pelton, executive vice president, and son Michael Loring, information technology director.

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