Big-box stores have nothing on Larry Klaben, who created a superstore concept of his own.
Klaben is president/CEO of Morris Furniture, a 63-year-old Ohio furniture chain that he acquired in 1998. In addition to two flagship Morris Home Furnishings stores in the Dayton area, the company also operates licensed Ashley Furniture locations, Better Sleep Shop bedding stores and outlet centers.
In an effort to expand beyond the Dayton market and create a unique shopping destination, Klaben recently combined his four brands and a new Home Theater Store concept into a 144,000-square-foot retail complex called Morris Home Center. The five contiguous stores are more than two football fields in length, and occupy a former Roberds site and adjacent vacancies in the Tri-County shopping mall section of Springdale, a Cincinnati suburb.
The stores maintain separate storefronts and entrances, but an open floor plan inside encourages traffic flow across the entire shopping expanse. Customers are especially drawn to a 15-foot by 8-foot rear-projection screen that fronts the Home Theater Store, where family-friendly content and ample theater seating, plus games and promotions from a local TV station, have made the A/V area a destination unto itself.
“Most furniture stores are not very exciting,” Klaben told TWICE. “The integration of consumer electronics and furniture really makes our store stand out, makes it fun, and encourages couples and families to shop together.”
The Home Theater Store also features six audio showrooms; two home-theater showrooms, including one with a Sony 3D projector and two rows of theater seating; and a TV display wall holding 70 SKUs.
Brands include LG, Samsung and Sony, as well as such premium audio nameplates as Bose, Denon, Onkyo and Paradigm, which the Nationwide dealer obtains through membership in the group’s Specialty Electronics Nationwide (SEN) division.
Morris, which entered the home-automation category about six years ago, also provides room design, installation and Control4 programming, along with cabinetry and theater seating, to create a complete room. “We can provide a single flat-panel HDTV to a complete ultra-deluxe home-theater room with the best video, audio, seating and cabinetry,” said Morris’ home electronics buyer Ed Robinette.
The Morris Home Center debuted in January, when former supermodel Cindy Crawford visited the showroom to promote her furniture line and donate $20,000 from its sales at Morris to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Klaben said he is looking to expand the one-stop-shop home center concept to other locations within Cincinnati as well as to additional markets. “We survived the challenges of 2008 and 2009 and recouped our lost premium business by looking outside Dayton,” he noted. “When there are challenges, there are opportunities, and there are some great opportunities out there now.”