Wolf Furniture opens first Va. Store
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, September 24, 2012
LEESBURG, Va. - Wolf Furniture grand opened its 46,000-square-foot store here during Labor Day, stepping up in price points for the affluent area and becoming the first retailer to introduce the HGTV Home collection.
The store on Fort Evans Road has generated strong traffic and business, said Gene Stoltz, vice president of merchandising for the Top 100 company.
It represents a number of firsts for Bellwood, Pa.-based Wolf. It's the retailer's first store in Virginia and 13th overall, including a clearance center. It features an updated merchandise mix, including the HGTV Home line by Bassett. And it represents the first time Wolf has handed over delivery responsibilities to a third-party company, Cory Home Delivery.
Wolf has invested more than $12 million in the project, which took more than five years to come to fruition after governmental tie ups nearly led the retailer to abandon its store plans and sell the property, said Wolf President Doug Wolf.
But in the end, the company built a dramatic new store, one Stoltz called "gorgeous," and "our best effort that we've ever put forward."
At less than 50,000 square feet, the Leesburg store is the smallest Wolf has ever opened in a new, non-fill-in market. But that doesn't mean the company isn't expecting big things here. Wolf projected the store will do in excess of $10 million in annual sales and lead all Wolf stores in sales per square foot.
Roughly 35% of the assortment is either new from existing sources or from new suppliers to Wolf, and most of it is at step-up price points. For instance, the retailer expanded its selection of Amishmade furniture, adding Urban Collections and more goods from Daniels Amish and Palettes by Winesberg, Stoltz said.
It also has added Lexington Home Brands, Bernhardt, A.R.T. Furniture, Rachlin Classics and, after a two-store, nine-month test, Thoma sville.
Wolf already is rolling out some of the new lines to other stores, including Bernhardt and Rachlin, Stoltz said. Further rollout of some others will depend on the success rate here and whether the product fits Wolf's target consumer in other markets such as Frederick, Md., and Johnstown, Pa.
"You can't use the initial reaction for setting a long term strategy," Stoltz said, "but there has been great acceptance to all the better-end goods."
While Wolf has always handled its own deliveries, he said the company went with Cory in Leesburg because the move will enable it "to increase our capacity without a whole lot of new distribution costs for us."
Wolf will ship goods from its existing Bellwood, Pa., distribution center to a cross dock facility in the Baltimore area and Cory will take over home delivery from there.
Doug Wolf said consumers in the Leesburg market, northwest of Washington, have been "very welcoming," to Wolf.
"I'm shocked at the level of knowledge the consumer has of what a process we've gone through to get the store open there," he said. "They thought it was overdue (and) needed."
Wolf said the company doesn't fashion itself as an urban retailer, but more of a rural or suburban business. It has no plans to open stores in the heart of D.C., but does expect to expand in the ring of su burbs surrounding the city.
A timetable and locations for additional stores hasn't been nailed down, but Wolf said, "We would be available to take new opportunities on very rapidly in the suburban markets as real estate opportunities become available."
The Leesburg store was the first in the country to carry the HGTV Home Furniture Collection produced by Bassett. It will be coming to Wolf's other stores later in September and is expected to land on the floors of other retailers later this fall, including Sprintz in Nashville, Tenn.; Baer's, Pompano Beach, Fla.; Kittle's, Indianapolis; American TV, Appleton, Wis., Darvin Furniture, Orland Park, Ill.; Stoney Creek Furniture, Stoney Creek, Ontario; Johnny Janosik, Laurel, Del.; and Jordan's Furniture, Taunton, Mass.
The collection differs from the product carried in Bassett's dedicated stores in the "HGTV Home Design Studio only at Bassett," which is devoted mainly to custom upholstery and some accents, said Renee Loper, Bassett's vice president of independent retail business development and marketing.
Wolf is No. 65 on Furniture/Today's Top 100 with estimated furniture, bedding and accessories sales of $84.6 million in 2011.