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  • Clint Engel

El Dorado Furniture plans first store on Florida's Gulf Coast

El Dorado Furniture has purchased a shopping center here that will be home to its first store on Florida's Gulf Coast.
The Top 100 company paid $9 million for the 179,000-square-foot Colonial Plaza at U.S. Highway 41 and Colonial Boulevard, adjacent to Edison Mall. A roughly 70,000-square-foot Boulevard format El Dorado showroom is slated to open sometime in the second quarter of 2013 in the largest of the center's four buildings.
The move will provide a local showroom for consumers in the area who have been buying from the retailer for years, said Pedro Capo, chief operating officer of the family-owned midpriced to high-end chain.
"We're very excited about this," Capo said. "We've been delivering furniture to the west coast of Florida now for the last 15 years."
Consumers in this market, he said, have been shopping El Dorado's southeast Florida stores in Miami and Broward County, either because they can't find the same furniture the retailer sells at local stores or because moved from the East Coast to the Gulf, but remain loyal to El Dorado and its unique shopping experience.
In addition, Capo said El Dorado's online business, up and running for the past three years, has exposed the company nationally to consumers including those on the Gulf Coast.
The retailer estimates the store will generate annual sale of $10 million to $12 million with little cannibalization of existing business.
In 2011, the Miami Gardens, Fla.-based El Dorado had an estimated $159.1 million in furniture, bedding and accessories sales at 12 stores, up 16% from a revised $137.1 million the year before.
The demographic makeup of Fort Myers is well suited for the retailer, Capo said, with a "hard-working, family-oriented" population, shopping middle to high-end price points. While Naples, Fla., to the south is closer to El Dorado's home base, Fort Myers is more centrally located, he said, and can pull consumers from the north and the south. The store also is along an important access route to Cape Coral and area beaches, he added.
Some key competitors nearby will include Baer's, Room To Go and La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.

Capo said El Dorado will use the same development strategy it used to build its Coconut Creek, Fla., showroom and center, which it considers one of its best looking properties.
"We're going far beyond the codes for landscaping, the parking lot, lights," he said. "Once everything is done, it will have another $5 million to $6 million (invested) to retrofit the entire facility - not just El Dorado."
The retailer is sharing the largest 140,000-square-foot building in the plaza with its tenant Big Lots, and the plaza also has other retail and restaurant space. There are no plans to convert the facility into a home furnishings-specific center, as was the original intent in Coconut Creek before the economy collapsed.
The interior streetscape Boulevard designs El Dorado is known for will be a bit different here, Capo said, noting that the store will be more open than the others with 30% to 40% fewer walls, similar to a remodel and expansion under way at El Dorado's Pembroke Pines, Fla., showroom.
Gulf Coast customers will be serviced from the retailer's main distribution center in Miami Gardens as they are now, except deliveries here, which have been limited to about two times a week, will be upped to every day or six days a week, he said.
El Dorado uses Cory Home Delivery and Diakon Logistics delivery services, and both are bidding on the new Gulf Coast business.
Asked if additional Gulf Coast expansion was coming, Capo said such a move would make sense in order to take full advantage of fixed advertising and other expenses. But he added that there are no immediate plans, noting that El Dorado insists on owning its stores, not leasing them, and seeks affordable deals so there is capital to spare for the kind of improvements it requires to bring properties up to its standards.

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