• Clint Engel

Shanks Houston location reopening

Bargain-oriented Get Furnished and More is getting a big assist from the Top 100 company

get furnishedHOUSTON — The Louis Shanks of Texas store here is reopening this week under new ownership and a new name and format, but with a lot of Shanks backing.

Kenny Vogt, vice president of operations for the Austin, Texas-based Shanks is also CEO of the new Get Furnished and More, an upper-end, but bargain-oriented concept that initially will open Thursdays through Sundays. Shanks President Mike Forwood said he is acting as an “unpaid advisor” but the ties to the retailer go much deeper, with some employees still on the Louis Shanks payroll and shared systems and certain other resources.

Get Furnished is taking about 50,000 square feet in the massive 200,000-square-foot location on Fondren Road, where Shanks operated a 120,000-square-foot showroom until Feb. 20. This past fall, Forwood announced it would shutter the location, pull in closer to home with its remaining Austin and San Antonio showrooms and rethink its retail approach in a rapidly changing environment.

This wasn’t initially part of the plan, as Shanks was planning to test a smaller format closer to home, but a few things moved it in this new direction, including the fact that its Houston real estate remains up for sale.

“We had this big building. We’re still paying property taxes and insurance, so there wasn’t any sense in letting it sit stagnant,” Forwood said. “It’s probably more marketable as a going concern than an empty shell.”

Get Furnished is promoting itself and “Houston’s newest outlet for high quality furniture at discount prices.” It carries many of the same brands as Shanks did here — including Hancock & Moore, Stanley, A.R.T., Comfort Design, Hooker and Restonic, Aireloom and Tempur-Pedic in bedding — but it won’t reach to the high price points Shanks touching here.

Kenny VogtVogt
The new store will offer some special order goods — through sources such as Flexsteel and Sherrill — but the focus in more on closeouts and other special items, furniture consumers can take with them immediately and without any minimum advertised pricing policies attached that the new retailer would have to worry about, Forwood said.

“We bought some showroom samples, some overstock goods,” he said. “The store is still nicer than 90% of the furniture stores out there in the country. It’s just not as high end as Louis Shanks was here, and it won’t have all the custom-order type product we have.

“It’s going to be more churning through goods buying closeouts and keeping fresh product coming in all the time. … I think people still want to buy nice things, but they want to get a great deal on it.” He said the concept has a lot in common with The Dump, an upscale bargain-oriented format operated by another Top 100 player, Haynes Furniture, with a store in Houston as well as in other major metro markets.

Get Furnished is a separate entity, owned by Vogt, but there’s quite a bit of spillover with Shanks. Not only is Vogt still vice president of operations for Shanks, but several of the new store’s employees are on Shanks payroll.

“We were able to keep some of the key people we had in the operation, but it’s a much leaner smaller group of people,” Forwood said.

The two businesses are sharing inventory systems, some computers and other assets. Even some of the merchandise that didn’t sell during the Shanks closing sale is on consignment to the new retailer.

Shanks still owns the property, too, although it remains up for sale.

“If this thing takes off like a scalded dog, it could be (our) new direction,” Forwood said.

At 50,000 square feet, it’s not as small of a footprint as Forwood had in mind for a new concept store, but it may not end up that size, he said. If the concept works, Forwood said there a lot of various-sized real estate footprint available, in which Shanks “can open multiple locations in the blink of an eye.”

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today
cengel@furnituretoday.com

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