Lending new life to empty storefronts, three new retail stores will open in Broward County in the coming months, offering an array of furnishings in former Carls Furniture sites.
Havertys, an Atlanta-based furniture company with three stores in South Florida, will open two new locations, in Coconut Creek and in Fort Lauderdale.
In addition, Pool & Patio Depot, a new brand affiliated with the French Canadian chain Club Piscine Super Fitness, will open its first store in the United States, in Pompano Beach.
“It’s going to be a one-stop shop where you can buy your patio furniture as well as all accessories, pool supplies and hot tubs,” said Catherine Rathé, vice president of operations for Pool & Patio Depot.
Two of the former Carls Furniture sites either are or were owned by the Geneva Group, a real estate investment company based in Coconut Creek, said Jarred Elmar, managing partner of the Geneva Group. Pool & Patio Depot bought its property for $4.2 million from Geneva and its partners, while Havertys has leased its Fort Lauderdale building from Geneva, Elmar said. The other site, in Coconut Creek, is owned by Fields Realty, and Geneva co-manages it.
Carls Furniture, the venerable retailer whose origins dated back to 1941, closed its remaining three stores in Broward earlier this year, a victim of the Great Recession. Carls Patio, an unrelated company, remains in business with nine South Florida locations.
Nationwide, the $55.8 billion furniture industry is recovering slowly from the economic downturn. More than 8,000 furniture stores closed from 2007 to 2011, according to research firm IBISWorld.
The industry is not expected to reach pre-recession revenues for at least five years, IBISWorld said. Besides competition from other furniture stores, the home furnishings industry increasingly vies for consumers’ purchases with mass merchants, big-box retailers and e-commerce sites.
Among the survivors that continue to grow is Havertys, founded in 1885, which carries its own branded furniture and name brand mattresses. The publicly traded company operates 118 stores nationwide in locations including Sunrise, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.
Jenny Parker, senior vice president of Havertys, said the company plans to open a new, 60,000 square-foot store at 6810 N. State Road 7 in Coconut Creek in December.
After that, the retailer will launch its first store in Fort Lauderdale, with 50,000 square-feet, at 3700 N. Federal Highway. The store is expected to open in February or March of 2015.
Meanwhile, Pool & Patio Depot is investing nearly $1 million to renovate its building, and plans to open a 30,000 square-foot store at 2201 W. Atlantic Blvd. in Pompano Beach, in December, Rathé said.
Pool & Patio Depot’s private investors are affiliated with Club Piscine Super Fitness, which has 40 stores across Quebec. The company has been in the backyard leisure industry for 20 years, she said.
After saturating the market in Quebec, Club Piscine has turned its attention to the United States.
“Things have been going very well in Quebec, so we looked at other places to open stores, either in California or Florida,” Rathé said. “We wanted to start with Florida — with nice weather all year long, it is the best market to open stores.”
Alexander Issa, general manager of retail stores for Pool & Patio Depot, said the company’s research shows there are 800,000 pools in Florida. With such a swimming-prone market, Pool & Patio Depot’s goal is to eventually open 20 stores as franchises, Issa said. “We have 40 stores in a province of 8 million people and summer three months of the year.”
In Pompano Beach, Pool & Patio Depot will be stocked with 100 collections of patio furniture, including outdoor dining sets and sectional sofas. It will also have accessories, pool and hot tub supplies, chemicals, equipment, hot tubs and above-ground pools. Its 90,000 square-foot building will have space for a warehouse and offices.
The objective is to grab a share of the South Florida market, Issa said.
“When you go to most specialty stores, you see just patio furniture or just pool supplies,” he said. “What we try to do is get all your backyard needs under one roof.”