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RC Willey opens in bigger and better Orem flagship location

By Karissa Neely daily Herald - | Mar 31, 2015
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The new RC Willey's main lobby seen during a tour the day before its opening, at University Place in Orem on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

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The new RC Willey at University Place opens Wednesday, April 1, in Orem on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

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An automated sales person talks about home theater, seen during a tour of the new RC Willey the day before its opening, at University Place in Orem on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

For those who haven’t been in a RC Willey for a while, the company believes the new store at the east end of University Place in Orem may just be worth another look. This isn’t the RC Willey of a year ago.

“After 25 years, it was time for an upgrade. Our old building was outdated and did not reflect the growth our company has enjoyed,” said Larry Smalley, RC Willey Orem general manager.

Updates are prevalent throughout. From the waterfall wall when customers enter from the mall, to the multiple zones dedicated to specific furniture styles, to the natural lighting and skylights throughout — there is a new look and feel to the store.

The store took over the space formerly occupied by Nordstrom, only just up the street from its previous spot. It does not look like Nordstrom, nor does it look like the strip mall retail outlet of yesteryear.

“We stripped it down, knocked down a wall, expanded into some space from the mall. The only thing we kept from Nordstrom was the escalator,” Smalley said. Natural lighting fills the store, with clusters of furniture creating neighborhoods of inviting spaces to sit and relax. “This larger facility gives us the ability to show more of what we sell.”

In addition to large areas dedicated to dining, bedroom and great room furniture, the store is targeting today’s consumers with four smaller distinct outlying zones that have a completely different feel, sound, and even scent than the rest of the store.

The Marquis Gallery smells like leather, while the Kids Bedroom zone smells like bubblegum and rocks teen-friendly music. The Lifestyles zone has a bamboo scent and pipes in the likes of Tom Petty to create that urban feel. Staying true to its roots, the Mountain Retreat sounds a little country and smells like a forest.

“Our goal is to create a positive experience every time a customer walks through the door. We don’t just want to have a transaction. We like to create an atmosphere,” Smalley said. “That’s why we have the music, the scents, and our professional sales people. We want to stand out.”

Customers can choose from the budget-friendly buys they found in the previous store, with a new area, a closeout center, dedicated specifically to them. There they can find the scratch-and-dent pieces, but also lower budget pieces. This replaces the Provo outlet store.

Customers can also shop high-end items throughout. There are unique, heirloom pieces imported from France, reclaimed and industrial pieces from all over the country, contemporary pieces for the urban dweller, and more than 100 dining sets capturing every furniture style.

“You can spend $500 on an everyday, dependable fridge, or up to $10,000 for a professional model,” Smalley said.

Retail sales of home furnishings took a hit during the recession, but have slowly and steadily increased since tumbling in 2008. IBISWorld, marketing and industry analysts, said in February that the home furnishings industry should see a steady increase in the next 5 years.

“With the stronger economy spurring on more new home building and remodeling, RC Willey, along with others that supply the needs and contents of those homes look towards a bright future,” said Clark Yospe, vice president of marketing for RC Willey.

In the face of competition from the burgeoning online shopping market, RC Willey feels it’s still important to have a “brick-and-mortar” store.

“We need to build a more personal relationship with our customers through social media forms,” Yospe said. “But people should still be able to sit on a sofa or lay down on a mattress as part of their shopping decision making experience. Having a location for them to do this is another advantage RC Willey has over online stores.”

And RC Willey feels Orem is the place to do just that.

“Orem is a great place to do business. We have enjoyed our association with the community and city leaders,” Smalley said. “The expansion project at University Mall is innovative and exciting. We want to be in the best possible location to serve our customers, and we believe University Place is a good fit for us.”

RC Willey is opened for to the public starting today. They will formally celebrate their grand opening April 16.


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