It didn't take long for upstart Home of the Future Appliance & Furniture to outgrow its quarters at Bear Creek Plaza.
The ensuing search for a suitable new home for expansion turned into a two-year challenge before Brenda and John Fisher acquired the former Roller Odyssey skating rink building in south Medford.
They're in the midst of a three-month-plus makeover in preparation for reopening the retail store at 2425 South Pacific Highway. When the dust settles, they'll have both the space and a location to reach their Roseburg-to-Redding and Pacific Coast-to-Klamath Basin clientele.
John Fisher has been an appliance repairman for more than 30 years, including the past 14 in Southern Oregon. As the regional economy revived from the Great Recession, the Fishers became convinced there was a niche in the appliance and furniture retail market. With Larson’s Home Furnishings, Eads Furniture & Appliance and others bowing out of the market, opportunity knocked.
"When we went into homes where the appliances were under warranty, we found a lot of the appliances weren't set up right," John Fisher said. "A lot of people said we need more choices, and we figured, hey, let's do this."
They started selling appliances in an 1,800-square-foot space at Bear Creek Plaza and added furniture to the mix in 2016. It wasn't long before demand grew, and the search for new quarters was on.
Like many industries, retailers expand or fall by the wayside.
"If you don't keep up with what people need and you don't keep up with the new trends, it's like the old saying: 'Go big, or go home,' " he said.
The Fishers searched downtown Medford and into Josephine County.
"Finding the right location, square-footage and price wasn't easy," Brenda Fisher said. "We wanted to buy a building that stood alone rather than lease. It took us almost two years looking."
They gave the Scan Design building at Fir and Main streets a once-over but decided against it because there wasn't enough activity, Brenda Fisher said.
They liked Grants Pass but questioned whether they could woo people there.
"People come from Grants Pass to Medford, but Medford people don't so much go to Grants Pass," Brenda Fisher said. "Our goal is to have a secondary store, perhaps in Grants Pass, but we decided to be locally centered.
They ultimately found a spot that's being revitalized on a variety of fronts.
In late December, they struck a deal for the 28,000-square-foot building on 2.43 acres between the Oregon Education Association office and Journey Church. Grange Co-op's south Medford store is across Lowry Lane, with hundreds of apartment units in the Charles Point complex to the east.
Brenda Fisher briefly toyed with the idea of restoring the old roller rink to its past glory, but was dissuaded by the cost of liability insurance. And that would've necessitated finding yet another building.
"We think this end of town is growing, and we'll do well here," said Terry Stevenson, who runs day-to-day operations at the store. "Within a couple years, we'll have a casino next door. If nothing else, that will draw traffic to this end of town. Of course, we've got a Cracker Barrel and a hotel going in and a new car wash going in down the street."
The firm isn't worried about big-box competition, and claims it can match the big boys' prices "dollar for dollar."
Although the store will narrow its appliance selection, it's adding furniture offerings and will begin carrying office furniture and mattresses. In addition to living room, bedroom, dining room, accessories and pottery, Stevens said outdoor furniture will be available seasonally.
"We have our own niche, they have theirs, and I'm sure we share some of the same customers," Stevens said. "Since the economy collapsed, we lost several people who did furniture. There are really only three or four good ones left. We're going to cover the higher end and the middle-of-the-road; we should have something for everybody."
After a recent trip to the five-day Winter Las Vegas World Market, Brenda Fisher is eager to display her finds.
"I have a different style of my own, I didn't go around and look at what everyone had," she said. "So far I've done quite well with my selection."
The store will reopen in late March or April, with the staff expanding to between 10 and 14.
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.