Arhaus to open Uptown store

June 18, 2012 | By More

An Ohio-based furniture store plans an expansion into the Uptown Houston District – an area that already has fierce competition among home-furnishing and décor retailers.

Weingarten Realty is leasing a 19,340-square-foot site in the Centre at Post Oak to Arhaus Furniture. The store is set to open in early 2013 at the shopping center, which is across the street from the fourth-largest mall in the nation, the Galleria.

The area is one of the most competitive home-furniture retail markets in Houston, said Don Sweat, president of the Galleria Chamber of Commerce.

A recent Google search brought up 10 home-furnishing stores in the 77056 ZIP code of the Galleria area. Among them is Gallery Furniture, which is near Arhaus’ future home on Post Oak Boulevard.

Gallery Furniture, which has been in business in the Houston area since the early 1980s, has a strong foothold in the Houston market. Its owner, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, is known for his “save you money” advertising campaign and his charitable support.

Sweat said he could think of at least two other Uptown-area furniture stores, Ashley Furniture and Noel Furniture, that have built strong brand names.

“Those three furniture stores really cover the gamut in offering top-of-the-line, name-brand custom and already manufactured furniture,” he said. “Those three are very competitive and very aggressive in seeking out business.”

To do business in the Galleria Uptown district, Sweat said Arhaus Furniture will need to provide top products and service as well as “be willing to go the extra mile” for customers.

“The Centre at Post Oak is a great location for Arhaus Furniture,” he said. “Retailers are willing to pay more money for rent in order to be in a premier location like that one.”

The density of wealth surrounding the area makes the location advantageous for Arhaus, said Booke J. Harvey, leasing director for Weingarten Realty. He said the Post Oak location near the mall could provide the furniture store with significant branding opportunities.

“The Galleria area is the largest tourist destination in Houston,” he said. “About 20 million visitors come to the area each year.”

The area attracts customers from outlying Houston communities, such as Sugar Land and The Woodlands. And, those who live in the district tend to shop there rather than travel to outlying parts of Houston, he said.

“Pretty much everybody in the greater Houston area comes to the Galleria at least a few times a year,” he said. “Retailers feel they will do a better job of capturing more customers in the Galleria area.”

Arhaus offers products made by independent artisans from throughout the world exclusively for its stores. According to the store’s website, merchandise sold includes sofas, sectionals and chairs wrapped in organic, leather and custom-order fabrics; dining tables and chairs for indoors and out; antiques and replicas; bedroom furniture; and private-label bedding collections. Additional items sold include library and office furniture, wall units and an assortment of media centers as well as seasonal home décor accessories.

The privately held company was established in 1986, and operates 40 locations in 16 states and Washington, D.C. The Galleria Uptown district store will be Arhaus Furniture’s first in Texas.

Harvey said he is confident Arhaus Furniture will be successful in Houston, “much like they are all over the county, due to having such a unique furniture and home accessory offering.”

“We are thrilled Arhaus Furniture chose Centre at Post Oak for their first Texas store, as they had many other alternatives,” Harvey said. “We believe Arhaus Furniture is a great fit for the shopping center as they add a great dimension to the merchandising mix.”

Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, Grand Lux Café and Old Navy anchor the Centre at Post Oak.

The furniture store will be in bookseller Barnes Noble’s former store, which closed Feb. 1, 2011 after 16 years in business. Arhaus Furniture is working with designers and architects on extensive interior and some exterior enhancements to the site. Construction is anticipated to start late summer or early fall of this year.

The store’s footprint will be designed to “ ’oh’ and ‘ah’ customers into mimicking the looks in their own homes,” said John Reed, Arhaus’ chief executive officer.

“We offer the right combination of designs that Americans are comfortable living with and decorating their homes with, and we merchandise them in the kind of environment that our customers not only feel inspired by, but comfortable shopping in,” he said.

The new store’s interior will feature skylights, a river-rock fireplace, hand-painted murals and a combination of distressed-oak and stone flooring, as well as the chain’s signature display “chair wall,” which will showcase dining seats in a variety of shapes and sizes.

“Our build-out is like no other in the industry,” Reed said. “We invest a great deal of time creating an environment that not only appeals to the shopper, but maintains our trademark look and feel.”

Allen Jones is a freelance journalist and can be reached at allen.jones74@comcast.net.

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