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The former RoomStore location at 5400 Franklin Ave. will become a Bob Mills Furniture retail showroom and warehouse.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte

Bob Mills Furniture has decided to open both a retail showroom and a warehouse in the former RoomStore Furniture building at 5400 Franklin Ave. that the Oklahoma City-based company acquired late last year, a spokesman confirmed in a phone interview.

In December, Chief Operating Officer Bryan Dyson said Bob Mills Furniture continued to weigh its options. He said then that the company might use the 36,840-square-foot building exclusively as a distribution center for other stores in Texas or also create a retail center with a showroom.

That decision now has been made, Dyson told the Tribune-Herald, but the company continues to pursue answers. A contingent from Bob Mills Furniture, including an engineer, is scheduled to visit the building Tuesday to assess the space available and the number of stores it could serve.

It has opened Texas locations in Amarillo, Lubbock, Odessa and, most recently, in Temple, which is why its commercials already appear in Central Texas.

Dyson said the company bought property in Waco “because of the success of the Temple store,” as well as its location in the middle of the state.

It already has taken out two building permits and has begun renovating the exterior of the old RoomStore site, including removing the RoomStore name.

The building includes a lessee, Texas Dynasty Cheer Gymnastics, which will relocate, giving Bob Mills Furniture full access.

Real estate agent Bland Cromwell said the sales price for the building was “north of $2 million,” with the furniture chain negotiating a sale over the lease that was offered.

The furniture industry saw a shakeout during the recession, forcing companies like RoomStore and Lacks Furniture to file for bankruptcy protection.

But the Waco housing market is improving, with buyers snapping up 281 homes during the first two months of this year, 15.6 percent more than during the same period last year. That typically creates demand for furniture and appliances, according to Baylor University economist Tom Kelly.

Also, Amarillo-based economist Karr Ingham’s most recent report on the Waco economy showed that 54 building permits were issued during February, the most in that month since at least 1999, when Ingham began to collect statistics for his first Greater Waco Economic Index report in 2000.

Kelly recently told the Tribune-Herald “there is a brighter outlook for electronic-appliance sales, building materials and home furnishings,” than in the recent past.

Dyson said the combination store and retail center will employ more than 40 people.

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