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Belleville HomeStore another step forward for HEFT

From the HGO Merchandiser

 29 April 2019     Greg Simpson 

The world’s largest furniture resource established a beachhead in the Eastern Ontario city of Belleville recently with the opening of its latest licenced store, a 13,000 square foot store that once housed one of the best Sears Home outlets. It’s also the second Ashley HomeStore in the expanding business empire of Jay and Shelly Upadhyay.

The sales floor is warm and inviting, displaying more than immediately meets the eye. While the furniture is undoubtedly Ashley, many of the accessories complementing the vignettes of living rooms, dining rooms and bedroom are from the Upadhyay family’s other business – HEFT Inc., a retailer and distributor of decorative accessories, lamps and area rugs based in Mississauga.

Shelly Upadhyay at work in the store. Most of the accessories sold in the store are from HEFT, a company the Upadhyay family founded some 20 years ago.Walking into the Belleville store – located on a stand-alone pad at the north end of this city’s Quinte Mall – one stops for a second to appreciate not only the size of the store, but the comfortable flow of the surroundings and availability of friendly staff. The floor features Ashley Furniture’s Lifestyles approach to merchandising furniture. While individual spaces showcase collections such as Urbanology, Family Spaces, and Contemporary Living are distinct, they blend well enough to make the wandering eye become a wandering foot. It doesn’t take long to experience every piece in the store and begin a second walk-around.

During this round, the smaller details begin to present themselves. Accenting the Ashley furniture is a range of HEFT’s accessories that draw out a vision of a real living space for the consumer. For example, an Edison vintage bulb in a Hanging Glass lamp can adorn a space above the Heritage Road lifestyle collection and suddenly the consumer can visualise the presentation in their own home. Over in Urbanology, a jute rug lies comfortably in front of an Owensbe two-piece sectional, tying the two together in a vignette where the contemporary finds the nostalgic.

HEFT – which has its own web site at heftinc.com – carries an array of home goods. Their rug assortment comes in a selection of cotton, jute and wool; while their lighting includes vintage style LED bulbs, string lights and incandescent. It also offers fireplaces and decorative accessories in several styles. French Bistro tables and chairs are HEFT’s primary furniture offerings, along with Adirondack chairs and table-in-a-bag products.

The Upadhyay’s family company has evolved throughout its history. Beginning over 20 years ago in the engineering sector, HEFT (an acronym for Heat Exchange Fit Tube) grew to expand into wholesaling, and then manufacturing, accessories that were sold to furniture retailers. It also operates or holds an interest in factories in several countries – including Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia to name a few – and exports their product assortment to nearly every continent on the planet.

Belleville is also not the family’s first brick-and mortar-furniture store. For the past three years, the husband-and-wife team of Jay and Shelly Upadhyay have operated an Ashley HomeStore in Prescott, Ontario, a small community near the Quebec border. They also have a 55,000 square foot warehouse.

Becoming an Ashley HomeStore licensee simply made sense, the couple told Home Goods Online.

Ashley HomeStore is a division of the Arcadia, Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture Industries, a full-line furniture manufacturer and distributor that covers almost all the important categories, including case goods and upholstery as well as outdoor and casual.

Launched in 1997, the Ashley HomeStore network boasts some 800 stores in 45 different countries with approximately 60 or so across Canada. For the past decade, it has been ranked as the largest furniture retailer in the United States where its sales were estimated at US$4.16 billion in 2017.

It also boasts an immediately identifiable brand – whose commercials are frequently seen on the most popular television networks – making it an easy bandwagon for the Upadhyay family to hop on.

“They offer all the assistance you need and offer a great product,” Jay Upadhyay said. “Lots of choices and the price point has something for everyone’s budget. It works for pretty much every house.”

When deciding on a location for their second store, the exit of Sears Canada from the market last January provided them with a great space at an attractive price. Belleville is a city of 50,000 people with a catchment area of about 100,000 creating a nice sized market for the Upadhyay's Ashley Homestore.

The local competition includes a corporate The Brick store; a Leon’s Furniture franchise; a JYSK outlet; as well as a number of independent retailers.

To read the rest of our report, click here to download the HGO Merchandiser.


Stearns and Foster
Sealy Canada
This HGO article was written by:
Greg Simpson

Greg Simpson is a freelance journalist based in Port Hope, Ontario.


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