CHAMPAIGN – For Mike Bruegge, there was no doubt the old Menards store on Anthony Drive was the right location for his new Ashley Furniture HomeStore.
"It's the highest-profile site in the county," he said. "We've targeted not only Champaign-Urbana, but the entire region, and it's very visible and easy to get to."
Ashley Furniture expects to open its doors Dec. 18. Workers were remodeling the front of the building last week, and Bruegge said furniture is scheduled to begin arriving Monday. The store, at 602 W. Anthony Drive, C, will employ 28 people, he said.
Bruegge already operates Bruegge Furniture, a fourth-generation furniture store in Highland that's been around since 1872. He thinks it may be the oldest still operating in the state.
If so, "the oldest furniture company in Illinois now has the newest furniture store in Illinois," he said.
Ashley Furniture will sell furniture at a broad range of price points. The store has sofas that sell for $299 and bedroom sets that sell for $799, but it also has bedroom and dining room sets that sell for $3,000 or so, he said.
All the furniture is made by Ashley factories, and samples can be seen in the showrooms, he said.
"The uniqueness is, the product is being shipped from Ashley. We don't warehouse anything," Bruegge said. "We receive it straight from the factory to our door in 21 days or less."
Customers can buy accessories – such as lamps, pictures and bedding – off the showroom floor. But all major pieces of furniture are ordered from the factory.
"As soon as the order is placed with us, it's placed at the factory," Bruegge said. "It comes to our door, we unpack it, inspect it and do all the service. By not inventorying the product, we save consumers a considerable amount of money."
Ashley Furniture is one of the largest furniture retailers in North America. By the end of December, the Arcadia, Wis.-based chain expects to have more than 280 stores nationwide, Bruegge said.