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Business

Dallas-Fort Worth’s Nebraska Furniture Mart will redefine ‘big-box store’

THE COLONY, Texas – Ed Lipsett, store director of the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart under construction in this Dallas suburb, takes great pride in the breadth of the new store. At 560,000 square feet, it’s big enough to fit three Walmart Supercenters inside.

But, he said, the customer service will also set the store apart when it opens this spring.

Touting the Nebraska Furniture Mart as a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, Lipsett said customers can browse on their own or ask for personalized design services. He pointed out digital price tags that will allow the retailer to change prices via infrared technology twice a day to ensure that customers get the lowest price compared with competitors.

“You can spend the entire day here,” Lipsett said.

Lipsett and other marketing executives with the Omaha, Nebraska-based store – owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway – recently allowed the media to take a peek inside. The two-story, $400 million store, with its attached warehouse, is about 40 percent completed and has taken two years to build. Store officials declined to reveal a precise opening date.

“We’re very proud, and we’re very excited to share the progress,” Lipsett said. “The project is right on schedule, and we now begin to load the 560,000-square-foot retail showroom.”

The store, he said, will offer an “unrivaled selection in top name brands and styles and prices for anyone’s budget.”

The store is so large, Lipsett joked, that officials once thought about offering customers Segways to get around.

The store will anchor a $1.5 billion, 433-acre development project being built by Berkshire Hathaway. Several restaurants and hotels are also planned.

A four-story attached garage has 2,200 parking spaces and allows customers to enter on both floors. An additional 2,000 spots are available on surface lots.

A 1.3-million-square-foot distribution center is attached, where customers can pick up their purchases.

The store will have 100,000 pieces of furniture, flooring, appliances and electronics, all set up by category. A shopper looking to outfit a “man cave” can find pool tables and other gaming items together. If you’re shopping for a recliner, you’ll have 165 to choose from, as well as 110 bedroom sets.

Throughout the tour, Lipsett provided other numbers. The store will offer 500 hanging area rugs, 109 dishwashers, 206 refrigerators, 76 pairs of washers and dryers, and 220 cooktops. A long wall is designated for headphones, and shoppers can buy cellphones and service from all major carriers, as well as Apple products.

The store features interactive and pop-up displays, exclusive showrooms for high-end furniture brands and “inspirational” room settings. Customers can grab a bite to eat at a Subway shop at the back of the store or pick up some See’s Candies at the store entrance. (See’s is also owned by Berkshire Hathaway.)

At pickup time, up to 100 cars can be loaded with merchandise at once. “We will have a fast and easy customer pickup service,” Lipsett said.

Nebraska Furniture Mart has offered jobs to more than 2,000 people at the store but expects to hire an additional 300. Training started in December, with about 60 sales associates a week going through what Lipsett called a miniature university.

Employees will man 65 cash registers, but associates can also complete a credit card sale using tablets, Lipsett said.

The Texas store is larger than its counterparts in Kansas City, Kan., and Omaha – which are 450,000 square feet. Nebraska Furniture Mart also has a store in Des Moines, Iowa.

Store executives expect much larger crowds than at its busy Kansas City location, which can draw 12,000 shoppers on a weekend day, Lipsett said.

The retailer has said it expects to draw about 8 million shoppers a year, some from hundreds of miles away.

“We’re perfectionists when it comes to the store experience,” Lipsett said.

Nebraska Furniture Mart traces its roots to 1937, when the store was founded by Russian immigrants Rose Gorelick and Isadore Blumkin. Berkshire Hathaway bought the business in 1983.

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©2015 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com

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