Bernie & Phyl’s heads to Maine

Former Toys R Us location takes retailer farthest from home turf

NORTON, Mass. — Bernie & Phyl’s Furniture will push into Maine this year with the opening of a showroom in South Portland this spring.

The Top 100 company has acquired a 44,000-square-foot former Toys R Us location at 303 Maine Mall Road, across the street from The Maine Mall, said Larry Rubin, CEO. The plan is to grand open what will be its ninth store over Memorial Day weekend.

Bernie & Phyl’s latest expansion move will give the Boston-area retailer a new location farthest away from its home base but just off the heavily trafficked Maine Turnpike and in a growing market the retailer is eager to penetrate.

“We did a study that showed it would be a very good market for us,” Rubin said, noting the growth and the limited number of key furniture suppliers currently playing there. (To date, Bob’s Discount Furniture, a current competitor in Boston, is the only significant player in South Portland, he said.)

This past fall, Bernie & Phyl’s opened its second New Hampshire store in Newington, near the Maine border. That 42,000-square-foot store, which draws customers from Maine, has been exceeding expectations, Rubin said.

“So we’re advertising in Maine already,” he said. “That really was a big attraction for us.”

On the other hand, the new showroom will be a roughly two-and-a-half-hour drive from the retailer’s Norton, Mass., distribution center and will probably require a satellite warehouse to help service the market. Rubin said the company is working on putting that piece together now.

At the same time, the company is going through the permitting process for a distribution center expansion to handle its recent growth, with plans to add 50,000 square feet, for a total of 250,000 square feet before the year is out, he said.

In South Portland, the store design will be similar to the slightly smaller Newington location and will feature Bernie & Phyl’s primarily midpriced assortment from key suppliers such as Klaussner, England, Ashley, Tempur Sealy International and Southern Motion.

Rubin said the company expects its first Maine store to generate about $15 million in annual sale and should help push total annual sales to $150 million when it anniversaries a full year of business in the new market.

Bernie & Phyl’s is No. 56 on Furniture Today’s most recent Top 100 with estimated 2017 furniture, bedding and accessory sales of $127.8 million at then seven locations. Rubin said business this past year was relatively flats because it didn’t open the Newington store until late in the year.

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