Home-decor concept At Home is set to make itself at home in every state of the union. Given its operations across 31 states already, the Plano, Texas–based superstore seems to be off to a super start. Its assortment of home furnishings, rugs, housewares, patio furniture and more includes the quirky and the traditional, the modern and the exotic.
The chain, founded in 1979, was known as Garden Ridge until 2014. That is when At Home Group CEO Lewis L. (Lee) Bird III began spotting all sorts of opportunities to rebrand and sharpen the retailer’s identity: The basic color scheme, for instance, was changed to gray, teal and white, from orange — which now was thought too reminiscent of The Home Depot. New life was breathed into the signage, the stores’ checkout areas got revamped for improved efficiency, and the decorative vignettes were revisited with an eye to firing the imagination of customers.
“With an average of 500 new items each week, At Home’s variety and breadth of quality merchandise is unmatched,” said Dean Zurmely, the chain’s vice president of real estate. “Over 70 percent of our products are unbranded, private-label or specifically designed for us. As a result, we can deliver unique and on-trend product offerings that span all styles of home decor.” Customers can find a five-piece wicker chair and ottoman set with accent table for $400, say, or a 30-piece stainless-steel cookware and kitchen tool combo for $50.
Currently, At Home operates 123 large-format stores, and that number will be going nowhere but up, Zurmely says. “We plan to open 28 new stores this year,” he said. “At Home has the potential to become a national concept.” The available markets for expansion are plentiful, he asserts. “The new stores that we have opened this year have truly demonstrated strength across existing and new markets. The new markets that At Home has recently expanded to include Minneapolis; Albany, New York; Mobile, Alabama; and Columbus, Georgia. We look forward to continuing to grow in new and established markets.”
The retailer has found success across a number of formats and locations, including freestanding units and stores at strip centers and in enclosed malls, Zurmely says. At Home also is one of the few growing retailers that are actively acquiring second-generation buildings and also putting up new, large-format stores, he notes. “Our minimum square-footage requirement for second-generation boxes is 85,000 square feet on one level,” he said. “If we construct an At Home store, it is typically 120,000 square feet. We like to be in strong retail nodes, and we want our co-tenants to be best-in-class retailers.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the customers are women, and roughly half report annual household income in excess of $75,000.
At Home has announced no specific target markets just yet, but given that it has no operations currently in California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon or Washington, those are places we may soon see the company begin to call home.