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Multiple Retail Storefronts: Why They Are A Great Idea

Furniture World Magazine


There are lots of excellent reasons to consider Adding multi-branded entries to home furnishings stores to achieve retail objectives.

Shopping for home furnishings has evolved, shifting from commodity-based to experiential. Furniture customers want to be inspired. Adding separate storefronts can help retailers to meet or exceed that expectation. At the same time, it makes sense for many larger-scale furniture stores to create multiple branded storefront entrances to target new customers and achieve other brand objectives.

Multi-Storefront Benefits

Adding multi-storefronts makes it easier for shoppers to find products. They attract attention and break up long, boring facades. Having more than one branded entry allows retailers to market home furnishings categories more effectively. They also telegraph to shoppers that retailers are as serious about a product category as a specialty retailer and are clearly “in the business.”

Mattresses, for example, are often a “lost” category within furniture stores. Building a separate storefront with the appropriate signage allows furniture retailers to compete more effectively with national mattress brands who position themselves as mattress experts, leading to increased traffic and higher sales.

Multiple storefronts also:

  • Break down the shopping experience and decision-making into digestible chunks.

  • Can help showrooms feel more relatable and be designed to target specific shopper profiles.

  • Differentiate retail brands from competitors.

  • Create a whole home shopping experience when they are grouped together.

“Multiple storefronts can help showrooms feel more relatable and be designed to target specific shopper profiles.”

Best Candidates for Effective Storefronts

Many home furnishings departments can be converted into effective storefronts. Best-performing areas and trending categories are excellent candidates, as are higher-end, designer/custom, promotional price-points, electronics, appliances and well-known brands.

C.C. CARTY FURNITURE & UNDERTAKING: In the late19th century, furniture and undertaking businesses went hand-in-hand. Separate entrances catered to customers with different needs.

TEPPERMAN’S FURNITURE: Before the rise of suburban and mall stores n the early 1900s, Main Street downtown furniture stores like Tepperman’s in Windsor, Ontario, flourished.

  1. Mattresses: Mattresses are one of the most obvious choices to feature, especially if an established brand name is used. Mattress First retailers like Michael Alan in Arizona, Kloss in Illinois, and Sylvan in Idaho use this strategy to create separate entrances and branding for their Mattress First stores. Prominent exterior signage attracts lots of attention to these storefronts. Sometimes, retailers successfully feature well-known mattress brands, like Temper or Serta, on their storefronts.

    Other retailers incorporate the look of a separate storefront in building facades to promote mattress departments, even if their customers have to enter through the main doors.

  2. Outdoor Furniture: Outdoor furniture may warrant an exterior entrance in areas where the category can be sold year-round. It is helpful if the space can be located outside or has access to an outside area. Miller Waldrop’s new Lubbock store utilizes an existing courtyard to feature patio furniture. The space is enclosed by a perimeter fence with a signature portal and metal gate providing direct access. It also includes a built-in outdoor kitchen to grill and host events. Rooms To Go’s separate brand, Rooms To Go Patio, is advertised on the facades of larger footprint stores and sold at smaller freestanding stores. Their freestanding stores have separate entrances and storefronts or share entries with Rooms To Go Kids.

  3. Outlet and Clearance: Outlet areas with separate entrances can be especially useful for retailers who want to distance clearance spaces from established store branding. Outlets should have a different look and feel, achieved by incorporating natural concrete floors, exposed open ceilings and simple discount messaging. Separate outlet entrances are appealing because they attract different types of customers and don’t siphon off regular customer traffic from main store entrances. Tepperman’s Furniture, for example, is relocating its popular outlet space in London, Ontario, from the back of the store to the side of its main entrance to increase visibility.

  4. MORRIS HOME: Ohio-based Morris Home was one of the first home retailers to embrace separate entrances for its most important categories. These include mattresses, outlets, and Ashley Homestores. The retailer continues to distinguish itself in each new market it enters by featuring its Better Sleep Shop prominently on exteriors.

  5. Rugs & Flooring: Rugs and flooring are less common candidates for separate storefronts but adding them can be similarly effective. Interiors Home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, subleases part of its store to Martin’s Flooring, a third-party flooring supplier. When run by a third-party vendor, rugs can create a bazaar feel in a space. Densely displayed rug and flooring displays give customers the impression that a store takes design seriously. Other specialty departments such as Spas/ Hot Tubs, Recliners, Electronics and Entertainment, can also warrant a storefront entry experience.

  6. “Outlet areas with separate entrances can be especially useful for retailers who want to distance clearance spaces from established store branding.”
  7. Appliances or Custom Kitchens: Other categories that do well as separate destination storefronts are appliances, custom cabinetry and custom kitchens. Appliances, for example, tend to be competitive and price-sensitive categories. Having an appliance storefront staffed with specialty salespeople reinforces the impression of expertise and competitiveness. Van’s Home Center, for example, expanded its store to create separate entrances for appliances and custom kitchens to display its expertise in both.

  8. KLOSS FURNITURE: Mattress First brand retailers like Kloss Furniture, which built a separate entrance (below) for M1 at its O’Fallon, Illinois, store, attract attention and signal to shoppers that they are serious about the category.

  9. Brand Names: It is common to leverage furniture brand name recognition by creating a separate storefront. Many retailers have Ashley stores, which, when featured prominently as storefronts, help drive traffic in specific markets. An example is Missouri Furniture, which recently built a store in Washington, Missouri. Two-thirds of the facade is devoted to the Ashley brand. La-Z-Boy, Stickley and Bassett are other strong candidates for storefronts that elevate a local furniture store’s brand image.

    Promoting style categories rather than brands is an alternative for retailers that want to promote their store’s brand instead of a supplier’s. Montgomery’s main store in Sioux Falls achieves this by having a separate branded entrance for its Modern Furniture department.

  10. Design Studios: Another storefront trend is to create separate environments focused on selling higher price point goods and custom design services.

    Many retailers have Design Centers at the hearts of their stores where designers sit down with clients, make presentations and review options—often by appointment. Some, however, are reaping sales benefits by creating distinct entrances or presenting design areas as separate stores. This makes sense because design studio clients may respond better to in-store experiences that are more upscale than those offered by some stores.

“Adding multi-storefronts makes it easier for shoppers to find products. They attract attention and break up long, boring facades.”

See additional strategies for introducing various successful Design Center configurations in furniture stores by clicking HERE.

MONTOMERY’S: Style categories such as “Modern” can be used to brand separate storefronts. Montgomery’s did that at its main store in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

WRIGHT FURNITURE & FLOORING: Even home retailers in smaller communities can benefit from multiple entrances. Wright Furniture & Flooring in Hannibal, Missouri, clearly advertises its Flooring America with a separate entrance.

VAN’S HOME CENTER: Retailers like Van’s Home Center in Auburn, Indiana, that sell appliances, custom kitchens, cabinetry, and flooring can benefit from separate storefronts that advertise their expertise.

Special Customer Amenities

Many furniture retailers are experimenting with customer amenity spaces added to their exterior storefronts, such as cafes or markets. While a cafe might get lost in many furniture store settings, a separate branded entrance draws in a different clientele. Furniture Mall of Texas launched its Howdy Cafe with independent access, exterior seating and workspaces. Dwellings in Barbados recently converted the center part of its store to a new Mindful Market concept with a separate entrance.

FURNITURE MALL OF TEXAS: Furniture Mall of Texas successfully launched its Howdy Cafe with a separate entrance and outdoor seating area.

Home Store Campus

An exciting trend for furniture retailers is the creation of “Home Store” campuses that serve as total home furnishings shopping destinations. The goal is to attract customers at both ends of the price-point spectrum and everything in between. Every category of furniture shopper is attracted to them because they include a main store, an outlet, and a higher-end design studio. In addition to adding an outlet, design studio and main store destinations, Mathis Home included a separate sleep studio store and an Ashley store within their Oklahoma City campus. Their Ontario location will include a separate café. Other retailers, such as Homemakers, A&W Furniture, Urban Styles, and others, are experimenting with home store campuses.

ROOMS TO GO: Rooms to Go (RTG) often advertises its Outdoor and Patio store as a separate brand on its store exteriors.

MATHIS HOME: At its retail campuses, Mathis includes clearance centers as separate storefront entrances to attract customers who shop at a value price point.

Interior Experience Ideas

  • Individual exterior storefronts should be reflected in store interiors.

  • Design Studio spaces should have a higher-end feel with large-scale walls, generous room sets, featured decor, plentiful fabric swatches, additional customer amenities and more.

  • Outlet areas can have a basic feel with raw concrete floors, stacked merchandise and discount signage.

  • A separate Mattress store lets retailers create a more private experience, such as a soothing spa-like environment.

  • An interior patio can be made to feel more like it’s outdoors by adding faux trees and typical outdoor finishes like stone and wood.

Once shoppers enter through one of several storefront entrances, keeping them in the store is important. This can be accomplished by connecting all of the stores on the interior, allowing customers to explore each space without ever having to go back outside. Multiple pass-throughs enable customers to enter one way and exit via another. Depending on the setup, retailers may choose to build separate customer service areas, each staffed with a team of experts. Alternatively, they can create a major, centrally located customer service area to provide service for all store entrances, supplemented by conveniently located, smaller outposts or lookup stations. The best way to accomplish this depends on a store’s configuration, size, flow, and traffic.

URBAN STYLES: Indianapolis-based Urban Styles created a multi-store destination, advertising custom sofas and American-made furniture on its exterior. It also created separate storefronts for “Gypsy Market” housewares and “Mattress Mill” bedding.

TOMS PRICE HOME: Toms Price Home in Chicago learned that creating a separate entrance for clientele who are looking for specialized design services creates a more exclusive experience. It’s a winning strategy.

MISSOURI FURNITURE: Furniture retailers with Ashley stores can leverage the brand to drive traffic. Missouri Furniture did that with their new ground-up store in Washington, Missouri, where Ashley dominates two-thirds of the facade.

Perceived Downsides

Some furniture retailers say that they don’t like managing multiple entries and find it difficult to adjust their sales “Up” system to accommodate the changes. However, stationing individual sales experts responsible for working with customers who enter through a particular store entrance can help alleviate these issues. Likewise, adding technology can help manage each door. Cameras, door signals, and phone alerts let associates who are “Up” know which door the next customer has entered. Some retailers employ greeters at each entrance to alert sales associates as customers enter.

A few retailers lock some storefront doors and reroute customers to the main entrance. This is not a good idea because locked doors frustrate or annoy customers, especially if they park in front of a locked entrance. A better solution is to create portals with faux windows to give the general appearance of separate entries. When doing this, the main entrance may need to be emphasized to prevent customer confusion.

HOMEMAKERS: Some large retailers like Homemakers have created “Home Store” shopping campuses. The exterior advertises everything from mattresses and accessories to their separate Clearance Center store, making it an apparent total shopping destination.


The main benefit of Including multiple storefronts on furniture store exteriors is the advantage of transforming them into major shopping destinations. They elevate various categories and attract customer traffic. They also offer customers everything they want, so they do not need to shop elsewhere.

Storefronts: A Historical Timeline

Undertakers: In the late 19th century, many funeral parlors added furniture sales to their mix. It made sense to separate their client groups by adding a separate entryway for household furnishings shoppers. Over time, dedicated furniture stores evolved. The need for separate entrances diminished.

Main Street USA: In the early 1900s. Almost every downtown included a Main Street furniture store. Most were less than 2,000 square feet with one main entrance.

The Suburbs: As people left cities for the suburbs, furniture retailers relocated as well, building warehouse stores with open showroom footprints. These required single entrances to control traffic flow. The first suburban mall was built in the late 1950s. Malls featured a variety of stores with multiple access points offering unique shopping experiences. Suburban strip malls were built, some becoming one-stop shopping centers with multiple entrances.

Mega Stores: Large format stores like Walmart, Target and Home Depot introduced multiple storefront entrances as they expanded into new categories such as grocery and garden centers. At the same time, furniture stores increased showroom square footage and added product categories. This created an opportunity for multiple branded store entrances to target new customers and achieve numerous other brand objectives.


HOM FURNITURE: The exterior concept for the HOM Furniture location (above) includes a main entrance larger than its Sleep Express, Floor & Rugs, and Seasonal Concepts storefront entries.

FURNITURE ROW: Furniture Row established its entire brand concept as a multi-store experience that advertises each product category, from dining to bedroom to kids and others separately.

About Jennifer Magee: Jennifer Magee is an architect and designer who has over 15 years of experience in the home furnishings industry. She has designed over three million square feet of retail space. Working almost exclusively with furniture and mattress retailers, Magee has an in-depth knowledge of how to layout stores to create better customer flow, improve the way merchandise is presented, and increase sales. 

She is the founder and owner of Retail in the City, a boutique design firm offering a full range of retail design services from storefront design to interior design, branding, space planning, visual merchandising, signage, new store concepts and more. Her talented team of architects, interior designers and renderers creates exterior and interior design packages so retailers can become more competitive in their home market or expand into new markets.

For additional information, visit www.retailinthecity.com or contact Jennifer directly at 917-533-4372 or jennifer@retailinthecity.com.