7 stores in three states are slated to open through 2023
CONROE, Texas — As American Furniture Warehouse prepares to open its third Houston-market store here this weekend, the occasion serves to mark the beginning of a new wave of expansion for the 14-store chain.
Jake Jabs, CEO of the Englewood, Colo.-based company, told Home News Now that six more stores will follow Conroe over the next two years — two more in greater Houston, three in Arizona, including its first Tucson-area location, and a second Colorado Springs, Colo, store. When completed, AFW’s store count will jump to 21 in three states.
It’s all coming after one of the nation’s largest furniture store retailers topped the $1 billion sales mark for the first time last year and despite concerns that the nation could move into a recession soon. But Jabs, who has been through his share of recessions, said he believes demand will remain strong for AFW’s format and way of doing business and that the beefed up market share expected to come with the growth — particularly in Phoenix and Houston — will make the retailer that much stronger and resilient.
“Bottom line is business is really good, and we’ve got money,” Jabs said. He estimated AFW’s market share in Colorado is between 65% and 70%, and, “When you do that kind of market share, you don’t have to spend a lot of money advertising and you get a lot of customers, a lot of repeat customers.
“It would be nice if we could have 60% to 70% share in Texas and Arizona, our new markets, he said with a laugh. “It’s probably not going to happen, but at the same time, we probably need more than two or three stores.”
In Conroe, and in typical AFW fashion, the company is soft opening a 550,000-square-foot warehouse showroom Saturday — no grand opening to follow. Located on Interstate 45, with great visibility by traffic heading both directions, the store is likely to become AFW’s top performer in Houston, Jabs said, adding, “I think it’s going to be a $100 million store.”
“Every time we build a store, they get a little better,” he said. “This one really has good exposure. We worked with the city and have a lot of good LED on the building. At night it lights up like a Christmas tree.”
The Conroe store is the third of three warehouse showrooms the retailer announced it would be opening with its entry into thriving Houston, Texas, its third state market. The first opened in Webster, Texas in the summer of 2019 and was followed by a Katy, Texas, store a year later.
But three stores apparently aren’t enough for that market share expansion Jabs talked about. Two more are in planning as part of its new six-store expansion push. Here’s what’s in the works:
In the Houston suburb of Tomball, Texas, AFW is taking over a former Sam’s Club building for a 130,000-square-foot satellite location. The company will remodel the building and hopes to open there in about six months.
In the Phoenix, Ariz., market, where the retailer operates two-area stores, a third is expected to open in July, this one in a former Costco building in Phoenix proper that AFW has taken over and started renovating.
Here’s what on tap for next year and possibly into early 2024:
In Rosenberg, Texas., another suburb of Houston, Jabs said AFW is looking to buy land for yet another satellite location featuring a 120,000-square-foot showroom and a 30,000-square-foot warehouse.
AFW also plans to open its first Tuscson, Ariz.-area store next year. The company already has purchased two tracts of land Northwest of the city in Marana for what is likely to be a 250,000-square-foot warehouse showroom, though it’s still working up the exact size.
Northwest of Phoenix in the small but fast-growing Surprise, Ariz., AFW acquired about 40 acres for what is likely to be another 250,000-square-foot warehouse showroom. Jabs said the market there is booming and pointed to the recent announcement by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. of its plans to invest $12 billion to build a computer chip manufacturing facility nearby.
And finally, in its home state of Colorado, AFW will open a second, 150,000-square-foot store in Colorado Springs on property Jabs said he’s owned for quite a while.
AFW is hoping to finish this next expansion phase by year-end 2023 but Jabs is allowing some wiggle room for potential slowdowns, something he faced with the first round of expansion into Houston, too.
“Today, you’re really at the mercy of the supply chain — getting steel, concrete, workers, anything today,” he said. AFW typically likes to build its own store, but, “One of the reasons we’ve taken over some buildings like the Costco and the Sam’s Club buildings is that they’re already built. We just have to do some remodeling, and then open.”
Asked how much the new stores will add to AFW’s topline, Jabs declined to make a projection. He believes the country is headed for a recession, and he noted he’s not alone in that thought.
“A lot of people think we’re going to go into a recession, and recession puts a stop to a lot of stuff.”
So why the ambitious growth plan if recession is a real concern?
“We’ve got a good format,” he said. “We do so much differently than most other stores. No high pressure sales. We stock (heavily and stick to everyday low prices). It’s a successful format.
“The secret to free enterprise is finding demand, then filling that demand, and there is actually demand for stores like ours,” he said. “That’s the reason we went to Arizona and are doing over $150 million at each store. Texas isn’t quite there, but it’s up every month. There’s a demand for our format, and I just want to go ahead and take advantage of it.”
Home News Now and Casual News Now contributor Marc Barnes contributed to this story. See Barnes’ story on AFW’s outdoor business here.