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Nebraska Furniture Mart Making Bold Move Into The Lone Star State

10/20/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

THE COLONY, TEXAS — Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) has always done things bigger and, the company would argue, better, whether it was selling a majority stake to one of the world’s wealthiest men, or starting construction on the largest home furnishings and entertainment complex on the continent.

The latter, dubbed Grandscape, will be a 433-acre shopping mecca located where else but the Big Sky country of Texas. After it’s completed in 2015 the project is expected to draw upward of 16 million visitors a year, some from as far as 200 miles away, and will generate more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in annual revenue.

Anchoring the marketplace colossus will be NFM’s first Lone Star store and the largest of its mega-emporiums in Omaha, Neb., and Kansas City, Kan. The new 560,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art retail showroom will hold more than 160,000 CE, appliance, furniture and flooring SKUs, and together with a 1.3-millionsquare- foot distribution and office center will sit atop 90 acres, occupying a combined footprint equal in size to 40 football fields.

“We love the growing excitement in the region for our one-of-a-kind home-furnishings shopping experience, which will bring something totally new and unique to North Texas,” said Jeff Lind, NFM’s chief strategy and development officer. “We believe Texans will appreciate our entrepreneurial spirit and unique retail experience.”

Lind said the retailer will bring to Dallas the enormous selection and competitive prices that are a hallmark of the business, which was founded with $500 by Rose Blumkin in the basement of her husband’s Omaha pawn shop in 1937. Blumkin, who continued working at NFM until the age of 103, instilled the credo “Sell cheap and tell the truth,” which is emblazoned on store walls and helped build the company into a home furnishings powerhouse.

The move into Texas is not without controversy. NFM will be entering the home turf of fellow NATM buying group member — and TWICE Excellence in Retailing award recipient — Conn’s (p. 20), and its disruptive business model may also impact a third award winner, Dallas-based Starpower (p. 23). But the latter said its super-premium products and services skew higher than Nebraska’s, while Conn’s credit-challenged target audience skews lower, which helped preclude a possible departure from NATM by one of the two group members.

NFM executive VP Bob Batt said the company had been casting about for a new locale ever since the opening of its mammoth Kansas City megastore 10 years ago, when majority owner Warren Buffet observed, “This is great — we should do this again.” The retailer had since “done a lot of due diligence,” Batt said, and described Texas as “a fascinating, positive market and a fabulous opportunity.”

The first of the showroom’s massive wall panels went up in June, and the complex, which received a New Development Deal of the Year Award from the Dallas Business Journal in 2012 for the jobs, tourism and recognition it will bring to North Texas, is on schedule for completion in 2015.