Nebraska Furniture Mart: Bold New Bet On The Future of Furniture Retail
This week it was announced that Nebraska Furniture Mart will be building a new store North of Dallas. Even by Texas standards this is going to be a big one --- 1.2 million square feet of warehouse, 546,000 square feet of showroom, and 25,000 square feet of corporate office space. In this age of Internet retailer's rapid growth and traditional furniture retailer's contraction, Irv and Ron Blumkin and their team are making a $1.5 billion dollar investment in the continued viability of brick and mortar businesses.
As one industry professional who lives in the Dallas area told me, not only is it great for the Dallas metro with over 1700 new jobs anticipated, but it's great for the industry. The expansion has gotten people in the industry talking about growth and expansion versus doom and gloom. After all, if a company owned by Berkshire is betting there are opportunities to expand in this economy, why shouldn't others in our industry look for expansion as well?
Logistically, there are going to be lots of challenges with opening an operation this big in a new market not adjacent to their existing markets. Everything from buying, to freight, to advertising, to personnel deployment has to be thought through so that the Mart can give the very best customer experience for people in Dallas who may not have ever heard of Nebraska Furniture Mart. For that matter, even the name may not resonate well in Texas since the Nebraska Cornhuskers always had a love hate relationship with Texas in the old Big 12 football conference.
But at the end of the day, the team from Nebraska Furniture Mart has built one of the most respected companies in the furniture industry. Their long awaited announcement for where they will grow next should be greeted by the furniture industry as a very positive endorsement of the long term viability of being a furniture retailer.
Congratulations Irv, Ron and all the associates for your bold bet on the future of furniture retail.