Shoppers seem eager for the coming opening of Omaha's HomeGoods, the affordably priced home furnishings and décor shop that's popular with interior designers and HGTV personalities.
If she had a nickel for each time she's been asked when the store opens, “I'd be a millionaire,” said Denise Willett, owner of the House of J home furnishings shop near the HomeGoods location in the same Montclair on Center development.
Now, Willett has a date to share: HomeGoods will open Oct. 14, said developer Ted Seldin, chairman of the Seldin Co., which owns the shopping center.
HomeGoods will join a number of home furnishings and remodeling shops that have located in the area around 132nd Street and West Center Road. They include: House of J at 12965 West Center Road; the Tile Shop at 12951 West Center Road, which opened in 2010; and Silver of Oz at 13013 West Center Road, which opened in July and sells jewelry, tapestries, pillows and ceremics.
Kirkland's, a national home décor chain formerly at Village Pointe, will return to the Omaha market this fall not far away in the L Street Marketplace near 120th and L Streets.
Elsewhere in the city, national retailer Pier 1 Imports will open its third store in the metro area this winter at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion. Texas-based upscale home décor shop Parmida Home opened in March at Midtown Crossing. And NJ & Co., a home décor and clothing shop described as “an upscale, vintage-inspired boutique with a modern touch,” opened earlier this month in the Legacy West shopping center near 180th Street and West Center.
“We each offer something different than the other,” said Parmida Home general manager Ed Aguilera. He said people are rediscovering the “art of entertaining” at home, and the new home décor products help make that possible.
“It allows the person to find, truly, what is their style and what is their taste, whether it be eclectic or traditional or contemporary,” he said.
While most of the city's recent retail activity has involved restaurants and grocers, home furnishings stores along with two Mattress People stores also contributed to steady second-quarter activity, according to a recent report from Colliers International.
Colliers retail associate Chris Mensinger said retailers see Omaha as a market where people are spending money on home remodeling and decorating.
“We're pretty conservative, we're stable people,” she said. When homebuilding slowed after the recession — it's now picking up again — Mensinger said people still wanted to spruce up their older homes. She said new home furnishings allow people to make updates without spending a lot.
“All of these places are fairly conservative price points,” she said, or shops where a customer can buy a candle or framed piece of art that will change the look of a room without spending thousands on a total remodel.
In the 132nd Street and West Center area, there are lots of homes built decades ago where, “If they still have their 1980s décor,” people are looking to redecorate, Mensinger said.
In the Sarpy County area where Pier 1 is locating, there are more newer homes. “There's just such a huge number of families there and a lot of rooftops,” Mensinger said.
The 2008 recession “taught people there's a lot of advantage to sprucing up their home,” said Jeff Beals, executive vice president of operations for World Group, which manages and leases Montclair on Center, where HomeGoods will locate.
“Stores that provide things for the home are really popular right now,” he said.
National stores looking to locate here like that Omaha is among the top metropolitican areas when it comes to disposable income, Beals said. He said area residents enjoy higher than average household incomes and a lower than average cost of living. Median household income within a five-mile radius of HomeGoods' new location was more than $71,000 in 2010, compared with about $54,000 for all U.S. households, according to World Group's research.
But the cluster along West Center Road did not happen by design, said Seldin, who said he likes to keep a broad mix of retail uses in his shopping centers to bring in a variety of customers. For example, Adam Spreeman, manager at the Tile Shop, said that one of his recent customers saw his store for the first time when she came to the center to eat at a bagel shop.
Nicole Leathers, who owns NJ & Co. with her mother, Jane White, said the large number of restaurants at Legacy West and the traffic they bring in attracted her to that development, which she said has no other home décor shops.
But there also can be a benefit to locating similar stores near one another, Willett said. When Elan Contemporary Furnishings was still open near Willett's House of J, she said, “They brought a lot of traffic. I'm sure this new neighbor will bring a lot of traffic.”
Spreeman agreed: “The HomeGoods going in next door, that's going to help us even more.”
HomeGoods offers furniture, bedding, kitchen and bath goods, artwork and décor items. It's owned by TJX, the parent company of Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, which calls itself an “off-price, value retailer” whose target customer is a “value-conscious” middle- to upper-income shopper.
Seldin said HomeGoods will succeed because it appeals to a broad customer base. He said Elan was too high-end to survive the 2008 recession; the store closed in 2009 after 37 years in business.
The new shops try to strike a balance between upscale and affordable.
“We offer anything from an $8 hostess gift to a several-hundred-dollar hostess gift,” said Aguilera at Parmida Home. “It's not cost-prohibitive.”
While HomeGoods boasts “inspiration we can all afford,” Seldin pointed out that its location, formerly a Sports Authority, has been completely remodeled, including home-style light fixtures, laminate flooring with the look of hardwood, and large, decoratively tiled bathrooms.
“It's first-class,” he said.
Willett said she doesn't think of her House of J store as upscale, though she advertises “distinctive” furnishings. “I think I'm a ‘medium' store, and I think I offer good value for the dollar, and I offer unique items for the dollar,” she said.
And even though NJ & Co. describes itself as upscale, Leathers said, “We try to appeal to all price points.”
She said home furnishings are popular because people are spending time at home.
“Everybody wants to have a wonderful environment to come back to,” she said. “Everybody just wants to have a nice home.”
Correction: A previous version of this story listed an incorrect opening date for the Omaha HomeGoods store.