Slumberland poised to open doors as 2 Dubuque retail expansions take root

Will Ambroson, lead designer with Flexsteel Industries, arranges furniture Thursday inside the new Slumberland Furniture store, located in Plaza 20 in Dubuque. The store is scheduled to open on Saturday, March 27. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

After completing extensive renovations, Slumberland Furniture is poised to open an expanded location in one of Dubuque’s busiest shopping centers.

The new store, located within the Plaza 20 Shopping Center at 2600 Dodge St., will open Saturday, March 27. It comes at a time when demand for Slumberland’s products is soaring, officials said.

“Demand for furniture has never, ever been higher,” said Store Manager Mark Jones. “People like to buy things related to where they are and what they are doing. And lately, we have all been at home.”

The revamped facility represents a significant step up for a company that has maintained a presence in Dubuque for decades.

Slumberland had operated at 4390 Dodge St. since 1996. That location closed on Jan. 31, ending a 25-year run at the corner of Dodge and the Northwest Arterial.

Franchisee Jon Davis said the new location will boast a 55,000-square-foot showroom — more than twice the size of the showroom at the previous location.

The extra space will allow the business to showcase more of the product lines it already offered, including additional La-Z-Boy products. It also allows Slumberland to offer an extensive line of Flexsteel furniture, a brand that wasn’t available in the previous location.

In conjunction with its move, Slumberland will increase its workforce to about two dozen employees, twice as many as employed at the old site.

The opening of Slumberland marks the start of another new chapter for Plaza 20, which has welcomed a series of new tenants following the 2017 closure of Kmart.

Plaza 20 President Michael Kahle believes the presence of Slumberland will be a boon to all of the tenants in the shopping center.

“Like any shopping center, our anchor tenant draws the majority of traffic that supports other businesses,” he said. “They are our new anchor.”

RIPPLE EFFECT

Slumberland’s move created a ripple effect, freeing up space for another retailer to embark on an expansion of its own.

Widmeier Furniture & Flooring will open its new location at 4390 Dodge St. — the former home of Slumberland — during the first week of April.

Furniture Manager Bob Duax said the new space will provide an upgrade in terms of both size and location. The business previously operated at 5205 Pennsylvania Ave., a location that Duax said was “off the beaten path.”

He believes the new facility will raise the company’s profile.

“This corner has so much traffic and visibility,” he said. “The location itself puts the Widmeier brand right out there.”

Widmeier closed its previous location Thursday, and employees are now in the late stages of preparing the new location for its opening.

The move is being accompanied by a change in brand. Previously known simply as Widmeier Flooring, the business will adopt the name Widmeier Furniture & Flooring.

Duax said the new store will provide an expanded selection of sofas, chairs, bedroom furniture, dining room furniture and other items. It also will boast an enhanced selection of retail flooring products.

The move will allow for increased staffing at the business, which employed about five people at its old location.

“We are going to double or triple that in the next six months,” Duax said. “We’ll get to 12 to 16 people, I think.”

COMING TOGETHER

When Kmart closed its Plaza 20 location four years ago, it left the largest building in the shopping center vacant.

Plaza 20 has since experienced a rebirth.

A new Veterans Affairs Clinic moved into a 22,000-square-foot portion of the old Kmart in the summer of 2019, while a Joann fabric store opened in an 18,000-square-foot space months later.

Slumberland represents the final piece of the puzzle, filling the remainder of the real estate once utilized by Kmart.

Kahle believes Plaza 20 has established a mix of entities that will work for the long haul.

“We were hoping (filling the old Kmart) would go even quicker than it did,” he said. “We had lots of opportunities for other tenants. They just weren’t worthy or a good fit for the long term. We took our time.”

Plaza 20 provides an ideal landing spot for Slumberland.

“We started making plans (for an expansion) a couple years ago and realized it just wasn’t going to be feasible in our old location,” said Davis. “Eventually, we decided to put our building up for sale and see what would happen.”

Officials from Widmeier expressed interest in the property last spring, setting in motion the chain of events that led Slumberland to Plaza 20.

Renovations on the new structure commenced early last fall and have stretched on for more than a half-year.

Keenan Davis, Jon’s son and regional manager for Slumberland, noted that the new location boasts a design that is entirely new to the Slumberland chain. As a result, it will offer a layout and aesthetic that are brand new to shoppers.

“It is exciting,” he said. “There is nothing else like this.”