After years of planning, BrandsMart USA, the Southeast Florida CE, majaps and housewares discounter, opened its first mega-store outside the Sunshine State earlier this month, setting the stage for what could become a bruising battle for market share in Atlanta (see sidebar, below).
The new, 130,000-square-foot emporium is located here, on a busy highway intersection just minutes from Buckhead, on an otherwise vacant 17-acre property that previously held a General Motors parts distribution center. BrandsMart may lease the extra acreage to restaurants to help drive traffic and further establish the zone as a destination site.
The mega-store is the first of at least three planned units that will circle the city, all to be supported by a 200,000-square-foot regional warehouse that is expandable to 1 million square feet. The second BrandsMart is scheduled to open in one year, executive VP Larry Sinewitz said.
The store retains BrandsMart's signature multitiered circular design, but with several unique changes. Most obvious is a ceiling-height conveyor belt that carries merchandise from the back room over the selling floor and down a two-story corkscrew slide to the center of the store. The concept, borrowed from the United States Postal Service, has reduced off-load time from hours to 20 minutes per trailer, Sinewitz said, and may be retrofitted into at least one of BrandsMart's five Florida stores.
Other differences include kitchen vignettes, brighter ceiling lights, a larger assortment of flat-panel and microdisplay TVs, the use of indirect lighting in the video department, and the absence of glass counters in the digital imaging section. Many of those concepts will also find their way back to Florida, Sinewitz said.
BrandsMart soft-opened the store eight days before the official grand opening, which was heralded with TV, radio and newspaper advertising, and celebrated with an industry soirée. Sinewitz had predicted some 20,000 visitors over the opening weekend, which led to record sales for the chain.