Mueller Furniture expanding with 3rd St. Louis location

ST. LOUIS — Mueller Furniture will open its third area store here early next year as the retailer expands its brand known for quality American-made home furnishings.


Mark Mueller, fourth-generation co-owner, Mueller Furniture, Belleville, Ill.Mark Mueller, fourth-generation co-owner, Mueller Furniture, Belleville, Ill.

Mark Mueller, fourth-generation co-owner, Mueller Furniture, Belleville, Ill.

The Belleville, Ill.-based company, led by third- and fourth-generation owners, is set to acquire the 12,250-square-foot Dau Furniture location in Ellisville, Mo., on Manchester Road, a busy retail corridor about 30 minutes west of downtown St. Louis. Dau is another longtime family-owned retailer, currently liquidating the store as the family prepares to exit the business. With that move and some other fairly recent closings in the area, Mueller, established in 1927, is poised to become the oldest continuously family-owned furniture retailer in the market.

“It’s a case of great timing between two historic St. Louis furniture companies,” said Mark Mueller, general manager and fourth-generation co-owner of Mueller Furniture. 

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Mueller had its eye on expansion for some time and initially sought a former Thomasville store location in Kirkwood, Mo. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit this spring, the retailer put off its expansion plans briefly. By mid-June, when it was clear the industry was in rebound mode, the company began negotiating again but could never come to terms on a price, Mark Mueller said. Around that time, it switched gears and locations when his realtor looked into the Dau space.


Mueller will install the same kind of acid-washed concrete flooring it uses at its Lake St. Louis, Mo., location, shown here with a leather cocktail ottoman and Bexley sofa made at Flexsteel’s Dublin, Ga., plant.Mueller will install the same kind of acid-washed concrete flooring it uses at its Lake St. Louis, Mo., location, shown here with a leather cocktail ottoman and Bexley sofa made at Flexsteel’s Dublin, Ga., plant.

Mueller will install the same kind of acid-washed concrete flooring it uses at its Lake St. Louis, Mo., location, shown here with a leather cocktail ottoman and Bexley sofa made at Flexsteel’s Dublin, Ga., plant.

“I told her I loved their location, and she took it upon herself to walk in there,” Mueller recalled.  The two parties came to an agreement quickly, and now Mueller expects to close Nov. 30 and open next February.

He declined to disclose the purchase price but said the company will invest about $300,000 in renovation work and $250,000 in additional inventory. It hopes to do $4 million in Ellisville in the first year, and if the growth track follows along the same lines as its Lake St. Louis store, opened in 2017, it could “eventually be an $8 million store,” Mueller said.

This year, the company is on track to do nearly $14 million at its two stores in Lake St. Louis and Belleville and expects 2021 sales to reach $17 million to $18 million with three stores.

Mueller said the company doesn’t plan on reinventing the wheel in Ellisville but rather will take what it has learned from the 10,000-square-foot Lake St. Louis store where business has been well above projection ever since the opening.  He estimated that the last time Dau did a major renovation was in the late 1990s and “it seemed like the concept was a lot of partitions, making every setting look like an actual room.” At the Lake St. Louis store, however, Meuller’s success has come from an open-floor format, which it will bring to Ellisville. 

In addition, it plans to install new flooring in many areas, using a warm, acid-washed and polished concrete that’s not only durable and easy to slide furniture across but makes area rugs upholstery and other home furnishing pop when placed on it in contrast, Mueller said.

And the product lineup will be the same, too, leaning heavily on domestic upholstery from key suppliers Smith Brothers of Berne and Flexsteel and case goods from Oakwood Inds. and a variety of other Amish and Mennonite sources Mueller has developed through regular visits to furniture markets in Ohio and Indiana. It’s also looking to pick up Stickley, a key Dau resource, and currently plans to carry select Stickley upholstery and new bedroom suites at the starting end of its price spectrum.

“We don’t plan on doing anything dramatically new,” Mueller told Home News Now. “It’s just a situation where we’ve really found our identity as the home for American-made furniture in St. Louis. It’s what people are looking for when they come in.”


Made in the U.S.A. will be promoted heavily in Ellisville, Mo.,  just as it is at Mueller’s existing stores in Lake St. Louise (shown) and Belleville, Ill.Made in the U.S.A. will be promoted heavily in Ellisville, Mo.,  just as it is at Mueller’s existing stores in Lake St. Louise (shown) and Belleville, Ill.

Made in the U.S.A. will be promoted heavily in Ellisville, Mo., just as it is at Mueller’s existing stores in Lake St. Louise (shown) and Belleville, Ill.

Ellisville is pretty much middle ground between Lake St. Louis to the west and Belleville to the east. While on a map, the suburb looks fairly close to Lake St. Louis, Mueller noted that there’s really no easy way to get there for Ellisville-area consumer and involves crossing the Missouri River.

Yet the two areas share a similar demographic profile that matches Mueller’s target customer perfectly. That’s female consumer, 45 and up and young families with household income between $150,000 to $250,000.

“We saw a huge opportunity,” he said. “In advertising, they talk about finding your tribe, your core customer — the people who really believe in your product, share the same values and who also can afford your product. And we identified a high number of people that live within 15 minutes of this Ellisville location” (that fit the profile).

Mueller said he’ll lead the new store and expects to add about 10 people with the opening, including three in operations and administration roles, bringing its total headcount to about 45 people.

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Clint Engel

Clint Engel is a veteran home furnishings industry journalist and executive editor of Home News Now. Please share your feedback with him at clint@homenewsnow.com

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