River rising: Ashley licensee ups store count in Charlotte metro

FORT MILL, S.C. — Top 100 retailer Broad River Retail, which owns and operates Ashley stores in the Carolinas and Georgia, is broadening its reach in its home market.

The Fort Mill, S.C.-based retailer announced plans to open a 35,540-square-foot Ashley store in Rock Hill, S.C., part of the Charlotte designated market area and 13 miles south of its corporate campus and distribution center. Officials anticipate soft-opening the store before Labor Day 2024.

The store will be in a single-entrance anchor space in the Galleria Mall off Dave Lyle Boulevard. The space, a former Sears, is part of a greater redevelopment effort by the mall’s owner.

“We do a lot of business in the Rock Hill market with those customers. They shop in our Pineville store and our Gastonia store, and some probably drive to Columbia or our Outlet in Charlotte,” CEO Charlie Malouf told Furniture Today. “There used to be several more furniture stores in Rock Hill, and over the past five years or so, many of the independents have closed. This is a market in proximity to our main campus and distribution center. We’re already advertising and doing business in this market.”

Manny Rodrigues, Broad River’s chief operating officer, said the company had its eyes on Rock Hill for some time, and it saw this as an opportunity to strengthen its position in the Charlotte DMA.

“We’ve been looking in the York County market for quite some time, and this opportunity is super exciting,” Rodrigues said. “We have four growth strategies. This pegs to the second: looking at current markets and understanding where there might be some white space, like we did in Salisbury. This takes us down I-77, still in the Charlotte DMA.”

Rodrigues said Broad River is bullish on the Rock Hill area, and the company believes the store could be a strong one.

“We think the Ashley 7.0 design with a beautiful sleep shop will be a home run for all the folks who call Rock Hill and York County home,” Rodrigues said. “They’re going to have the No. 1 name in furniture in their backyard. Thirteen miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but in Charlotte traffic, you’re talking 35 to 40 minutes.”

While Broad River is growing, it recently received recognition for previous growth. It was named a 2023 Fast 50 as well as the 36th largest private company in the DMA by the Charlotte Business Journal, and it placed among South Carolina’s 2023 50 Fastest Growing Companies by South Carolina Business Awards.

“This represents and recognizes the collective effort of everybody rowing in the same direction, being bought in,” Malouf said. “You can’t win an award in a day, a week, a year. It’s the culmination of a lot of planning and people buying in, (people) saying they want to be uncommon and be recognized for doing a good job, and (for) treating people with kindness, love and care and doing business the right way.”

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