Nebraska Furniture Mart's New Store Causing Co

Kansas City, MO, Aug. 18--The arrival of Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City, KS, is a slight cause of concern for some local furniture stores, accoroding to the St. Joseph News Press. The 712,000-square-foot store with two levels, a restaurant and more than 800 employees has the potential to draw numerous consumers from St. Joseph, a prospect that has some local stores nervous. “I think everybody should be concerned about it,” said Bruce Fetters, manager of Heitman Mattress. “It’s a huge mecca in retail furniture.” Nebraska Furniture Mart held its grand opening Friday morning with lots of fanfare and sales on furniture, appliances, electronics and flooring. “I think it’s outstanding, especially for this area,” said Norbert Donnell, from Kansas City, who had two DVD players that were on sale for $29 each in his cart. “We haven’t ever had anything like this before.” Warren Buffett, majority owner of Nebraska Furniture Mart and second-richest man in the world, spoke at the store’s grand opening. “I predict that this store will be the largest home-furnishings store in the United States as measured in dollar figures,” Buffett said. Omaha’s Nebraska Furniture Mart sells about $350 million annually, he said. To compete with the massive retailer, Heitman Mattress is planning to expand its store by 5,000 square feet, Fetters said. Construction on the expansion should begin in November and will be complete by the first of the year, he said. “We’re adding an airbed line, bunk beds and daybeds,” Fetters said. “We’re going to offer more that we just don’t have room for right now.” Other local stores plan to continue as usual and hope the novelty of the new store wears off. "Anytime a business starts up, it’s always like that,” said Bob Hand, owner of Downtown Furniture Emporium. “How they sell a product in a big conglomerate like that is nothing like how we sell our product in a family-owned business.” Smaller stores in smaller towns often offer better service, said Jim Frazier, owner of Colony House. The opening of Nebraska Furniture Mart might actually help businesses in St. Joseph, he said. “I look at it as a positive thing,” he said. “It might increase the amount of people looking for furniture. I can’t see any negative at all. It’s like if there were only one restaurant in town. That wouldn’t be any good.” Although St. Joseph customers might be tempted to make the drive south, many customers of local furniture stores come from the surrounding rural areas of Hiawatha, KS, Cameron, MO, and Maryville, MO, Frazier said. “We have great service and good brands,” he said. “Our prices are just as good. We have good service. We have a lot better service than a store like that does.”

Related Topics:Nebraska Furniture Mart, Armstrong Flooring