The closed Sears location at the Mall at Fairfield Commons will be filled with a furniture retailer and an entertainment destination next year according to mall managers. The business area around the mall continues to grow and land surveyors were preparing a site for the construction of a medical office near the Shoppes at Fairfield Commons. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Online sales not killing every retailer: New stores taking over Dayton big-box locations

A large percentage of retails sales have moved online and that trend is likely driving furniture shops to take the place of big-box stores in the Dayton region, local experts said.

As furniture stores look to expand, they’ve been able to find a large inventory of empty storefronts, said Terry Ohnmeis, director a the real estate firm of Cushman & Wakefield. That inventory, Ohnmeis said, allows furniture retailers to expand into spaces that don’t require much renovation and are already located in or near shopping destinations.

In the Dayton area, at least five new furniture stores will open in the market, competing against stores like Morris Furniture, Cedar Hill, Ashley Furniture, and King Furniture.

“There’s a lot of nuance to the retailers that are expanding,” Ohnmeis said. “I think there’s still a need for the big-box, traditional furniture store…and there’s availability of boxes meeting the need of the furniture stores expanding.”

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Furniture sales remain the second biggest sector of the retail industry, second only to food and beverage services, according to research conducted by the advertising agency KATANA.

The most recent store to announce it’s opening in the Dayton area is Cincinnati-based Furniture Fair, which will renovate and move into the former Toys “R” Us building in Beavercreek later this year.

Beavercreek has already approved remodeling of the facade and interior of the building, at 2500 N. Fairfield Road. The building permit on file with Greene County shows it’s a $3.3 million project for the 55,400 square-foot building.

The plan is to finish renovations and open the store by early to mid-October, said Joshua Yauger, Furniture Fair construction manager. Furniture Fair, Yauger said, is expanding its market and “trying to better serve the greater Dayton area.”

The Beavercreek store will be the second Furniture Fair in the Dayton region after the company opened a location in the former Cub Foods building on Springboro Pike in 2015. The family-owned chain has eight stores in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky region, Yauger said.

“It’s always great to see new businesses in Beavercreek, especially when they fill a vacant property,” said Amanda Byers, president of the Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce.

Aside from Furniture Fair, The Room Place plans to open later this year in part of the former Sears location at the Mall at Fairfield Commons. The Chicago-based furniture store is also opening a location at the Dayton Mall.

The Room Place offers “a total-room concept to furniture shopping,” which gives customers a chance to view fully set up rooms created by designers, according to its website. Since starting in 1912, The Room Place has expanded to more than 25 location across Illinois and Indiana, mainly in the Chicago and Indianapolis markets, according to the company’s website.

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“When an outstanding furniture retailer with a venerable 100-year history takes vacated department store space, let’s just say if I were an emoji kind of person, there’d be a smiley face or two illustrating our happiness,” said Lou Conforti, chief executive officer of Washington Prime, the group that operates both malls.

Home retailer Big Sandy Superstore also will open its first Dayton-area store later this year, filling big-box space vacated by the Elder-Beerman Furniture Store.

When the project is completed, Big Sandy CEO Robert Vanhoose said the company will have invested close to $2 million. The 53,360 square-foot building at 2400 Miamisburg Centerville Road closed in August after Elder-Beerman filed for bankruptcy in April 2018.

Big Sandy is designed to be four stores in one, Vanhoose said. The store will sell furniture, mattresses, appliances and HDTVs. It will employ 20 to 25 full-time employees and open in the fourth quarter of this year, Vanhoose said.

Shoppers are happy to order clothes and other products online. But, when it comes to a larger purchases or something that’s difficult to return online — such as furniture — customers are sticking to shopping locally, said Kelly Gray, vice president at real estate agency Equity.

It’s that mentality, Gray said, that will keep furniture shops around longer than other retail stores.

“Furniture is one of those sectors that people don’t necessarily want to shop online for,” Gray said. “They kind of want to see it and feel it.”

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