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Here's to the movers and shakers
At a time when business is admittedly spongy-soft for plenty of retailers, the movers and shakers of our industry are hitting it hard when it comes to investing in the future of their businesses - weak economy or not.
One perfect example is my friend Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse. We spotted each other at the recent Tupelo Furniture Market and before I could shake his hand, he was waving the rendering of his newest venture - a stunning 550,000-square-foot megastore he plans to open later this year in Gilbert, Ariz.
The store will sit on a 73-acre campus and will feature a 150,000-square-foot showroom and a 400,000-square-foot distribution center.
"This store will represent the future of furniture retail," Jake told me and judging by his smile, it is clear he is ready to once again raise the bar at retail.
What puts a smile on my face is that for as long as I've known him, Jake, who has been a retailer since 1955, seems to compete against no one but himself. The one thing I've learned from Jake is this: I would rather be a friend than a competitor.
Earlier, our friends at Nebraska Furniture Mart broke ground on what will be an almost 1.9 million square-foot retail store in a suburb of Dallas. The Nebraska Furniture Mart of Texas will generate about $600 million in annual sales of furniture, appliances and electronics, according to the Blumkin family, which operates NFM.
And let's not forget City Furniture's Keith Koenig, who pushed the envelope (obviously recycled) with his store in Dadeland, which is a study in sustainable, eco-friendly retailing. Keith plans more green stores soon.
Clearly, there are many more retailers thinking outside the box as a means of laying the foundation for their future success.
For example, Chicagoland's Walter E. Smithe recently launched the Mark, an assortment of affordable, scaled-down contemporary furniture, as a way to appeal to younger urban shoppers.
The point is simple: If you plan on being around tomorrow, get busy reinventing your business today.