The outside of the new location features a modified logo that emphasizes Kimbrell’s furniture offerings.
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Kimbrell’s Furniture completed a series of three new store openings in North Carolina over Labor Day weekend with the grand opening of its first Wilmington, N.C., store.
All located in former Toys R Us buildings, the new stores are the largest of the Charlotte, N.C.-based Top 100 company’s locations — which compares with to a roughly 25,000-square-foot average for Kimbrell’s stores — with the Wilmington location coming in at 45,000 square feet, as is its earlier opened Jacksonville, N.C., sibling, the first of the three to open.
The store opening process began last year and was supposed to be wrapped up earlier this year, with the second new store, located in Greenville, N.C. opening in February, and the Wilmington location slated to open months ago. But the last opening was delayed approximately four months because of coronavirus disruptions, according to Jerry Peters, Kimbrell’s vice president of marketing and sales.
One of the most difficult parts of the opening was merchandise shortages. Impacted greatly by ongoing furniture shortages — caused by production stalls during COVID-19 quarantines and shutdowns in the U.S. and elsewhere and escalated by high consumer demand immediately following retail reopening — Kimbrell’s had to adapt its showroom offerings in Wilmington and relied heavily on a few key manufacturers, such as Emerald Home Furnishings, Homelegance and Corinthian, to fill its new location.
Because of COVID-19 concerns, the ribbon cuttings and opening weekend for the store was scaled down, too, comparable to a soft opening, said Peters, but the store still had a good opening weekend overall, and Peters said he could see it quickly becoming one of Kimbrell’s top three stores.
According to Peters, in addition to being the first stores located east of Raleigh, N.C., these three new stores mark a change in the promotional to mid-priced retailer’s offerings and look, all aimed at appealing to a broader consumer base, including younger consumers.
“It’s a vision of what we want the future of our stores and company to look like,” said Carol Faircloth, Kimbrell’s area supervisor for Eastern North Carolina, about the larger, newer spaces.
Faircloth, who designed the new store with Peters, described the space as having a more modern, casual lifestyle feel, with open sightlines, higher ceilings and plenty of space to create more “airy” displays. Highlights include updated track lighting and a modern sales service “hub” in the center of the store where customers can be greeted, go over quotes and financing, and get other information all in one place.
The exterior features a logo new to these eastern North Carolina locations, too — Kimbrell’s Home Furnishings — that plays up its core category. Before the opening of the Jacksonville location, previous logos have included the tagline “furniture, bedding, appliances, electronics,” but Faircloth noted in an earlier interview that furniture and bedding account for the majority of its business, and the retailer wanted to be sure to be recognized as a furniture store first and foremost in this new market.
“People who come from other stores in other towns have been really astounded by the changes,” noted Peters. “We actually had someone come in the other day who had been to a store in the northern part of the state, and she was ecstatic about the changes.”
To match the new aesthetics, Kimbrell’s is also moving its product assortment up a notch, upping its available price points from essentially all promotional to promotional pieces only taking up less than 20% of its floor; stepping up its bedding offerings to include brands such as Kingsdown, Tempurpedic and Stearns & Foster; selling more motion and using about half of its floor to do so; and topping out sofa prices at $1,000 instead of $499 to $599.
All told, the retailer invested roughly $15 million in the three new store projects, including remodeling, and as they continue to perform well, Faircloth said the company will eye additional expansion into New Bern, N.C., and other eastern North Carolina markets. Moving forward, it will also base updates to its more than 50 other locations, some of which have been opened for more than 100 years, on the new location concepts.