Old Navy, Ashley Furniture to fill vacant spots around Muncie
MUNCIE, Ind. – From furniture to a popular clothing brand, two vacant storefronts will soon be filled with well-known companies.
More than a year ago, the City of Muncie Facebook page announced that Old Navy would be returning to Muncie. The retailer had once occupied a space in Muncie Mall, but closed there about 10 years ago.
While COVID-19 appeared to be slowing the opening process at its new location in the Muncie Plaza Strip mall across from Muncie Mall across Princeton Avenue, things seem to be speeding up again.
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Crews have been working inside the building for the past few weeks. Old Navy posters and window stickers are now visible on the front door and windows, and on Friday morning the store appeared to have lights for products.
The site was originally occupied by an Office Max which closed in 2006. MC Sports opened there a year later and closed in summer 2016. Since then, seasonal shops like Spirit Halloween have taken advantage of the space.
The City of Muncie Facebook page recently reported on the site redesign and announced that the store will be opening soon. However, no opening date has been announced.
The old Navy had not responded to requests for confirmation or further information by Friday afternoon.
Ashley Furniture moves into Toys R Us
Muncie’s former Toys R Us location, which has been vacant since June 2018, will soon be home to a global furniture chain.
An Ashley Furniture HomeStore is slated to move early this summer, said Richard Gill, owner of the upcoming Muncie location.
Currently, construction workers are working inside the building, preparing to lay concrete floors, polish and erect walls. Electricians have been working on the new lighting system.
Gill said it had been quite a journey removing what Toys R Us had left, especially when it came to shelves donated to the Muncie Mission.
“I mean it was like a time capsule when I took the building,” said Gill. “The computers were still there, all the desks, the shelves, everything but the goods.”
After the opening, the furniture store will employ between 12 and 15 people.
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Gill is no stranger to the furniture business. His father and uncle founded Gill Bros. Furniture in 1966 with the first location in Albany. The company was sold to Gill and his cousin Steven in 1991. Nine years later, the Muncie site on McGalliard Road made its debut.
After his cousin retired last year, Gill has become the sole owner and is excited to own the Ashley site as well.
Despite being completely separate businesses, according to Gill, it’s not uncommon for an owner of a local furniture store to also own an Ashley Home Store when they’re in the same town. An example would be Klopfenstein Furniture in Fort Wayne.
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“Ashley does the merchandising for us,” said Gill. “They do a lot of market research and really help us get the goods to the ground that is best for the geographic area.”
While Gill Bros. Furniture and other stores stock some Ashley pieces, the Ashley HomeStore products are exclusive to the company, according to Gill.
The new store will also offer “more popular pricing,” said Gill. While Gill Bros. Furniture will start at mid to higher prices, Ashley HomeStore will have cheaper pieces.
“Ashley has really tremendous prices and values for Central America,” said Gill. “So it will likely be a more youthful customer than what would normally shop at Gill Brothers.”
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While COVID-19 has impacted both the construction and furniture supply chains, Gill is hoping to have a gentle opening for business around July 1st.
“The design that its designers created for it is simply stunning. The entire front of the building is preparing to transform itself,” said Gill. “The interior will be beautiful with polished concrete floors and there will be a large, beautiful service desk in the middle. We will have some really, really nice displays.”
Charlotte Stefanski is a reporter for the Star Press. Contact her at 765-283-5543, [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @CharStefanski