Furniture showroom called 'future of retail' could join downtown Naperville
A 30-second commercial seemed to be all it took for a furniture showroom to convince Naperville planning and zoning commissioners that it should be allowed to open on the ground floor in the city's downtown.
General service uses, such as showrooms, typically are not allowed below the second story in downtown buildings, in an attempt to save the most visible first-floor space for retail shops that thrive on foot traffic.
But planning and zoning commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the city council make an exception for Lovesac.
During a meeting last week, the company's vice president of real estate, Clary Groen, played a short TV ad, which ended by describing Lovesac's couches, or "sactionals" as "the world's most adaptable couch" and inviting listeners to "design yours online or at a Lovesac showroom near you."
The company hopes to open a showroom at 12 W. Jefferson Ave. as part of an initiative to venture into downtown street locations instead of shops only inside closed malls or lifestyle centers, Groen said. The space used to be occupied by Serendipity Resale Shop and is sandwiched between Naper Nuts and Sweets to the east and Two Brothers Barrel House to the west.
"The primary driver of our brand awareness is being located on lower levels where consumers can see our product," Groen said.
Gabrielle Mattingly, of the city's planning services team, said city staff members are OK with making an exception to allow the Lovesac showroom on the first floor because it also will sell some retail products that customers can buy in-store. Groen said these include blankets, TV trays and coasters that complement the couches and beanbag chairs that customers could order in the new store for home delivery.
Lovesac modular couches typically cost between $5,000 and $6,000, Groen said, so the showroom could become a strong sales-tax generator inside a relatively small, 1,400-square-foot space.
Commissioner Oriana Van Someren said she's familiar with Lovesac's products and would be excited to see the showroom join the downtown. The Downtown Naperville Alliance and Naperville Development Partnership both are in favor of the addition as well, Mattingly said.
"It makes sense to me for you guys to have a retail store in Naperville. I think its great to see," Van Someren said. "This is the future of retail."
The city council will make the final decision on whether to allow Lovesac on the first floor during a later meeting.