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Ashley Furniture to fill Hedman building

Fast-growing retailer Ashley Furniture is expected to open in the former Hedman Furniture building by Thanksgiving, filling the largest vacant business space in downtown Grass Valley.

A familiar face will be at the helm: Chellie Peterson, whose family ran Hedman before it closed in March.

“I’m excited about it,” said Peterson, 61, who couldn’t stay retired from the furniture industry she was a part of for 35 years. “I miss the business.”



A mostly vacant building that wasn’t selling, as well as the success of Ashley Furniture, brought Peterson back to downtown Grass Valley, she said. Hedman had been a fixture in the city for 50 years.

Ashley Furniture will join Tess’ Kitchen Store in the flagship Mill Street building. Tess’ opened in its new location earlier this month from down the street.




Grass Valley’s downtown, hit with several vacancies this summer, is filling up again. Blackjack, a men’s store, and Mango, a lingerie and bed-and-bath accessory store, opened in recent weeks. Cabona’s, a clothing store, is expected to open later this month.

“We’re happy to have her back as part of our downtown,” said Howard Levine, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association.

The 25,000-square-foot furniture store will employ 12 people, including five former Hedman workers.

Although Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture is a national retailer, its stores are independently owned and operated.

Ashley ranked second to Wal-Mart in 2006 in furniture and bedding sales, according to Furniture Today, a trade publication.

It generated nearly $2 billion in sales, just behind Wal-Mart’s $2.1 billion. The stores’ sales grew by nearly 33 percent last year, the paper said.

Ashley Furniture, a privately owned manufacturer, is designed as an affordably priced operation.

It also will be easier to run than Hedman, Peterson said.

“When I was in business at Hedman, we had 90 venders,” she said. “Now, we’re down to one vendor (Ashley) and a few accessory companies.”

Customers should be able to get their furniture more quickly at Ashley compared with Hedman, Peterson said.

“We’ve told customers six to eight weeks (delivery time),” Peterson said referring to the Hedman business. “Now, we can be more specific.”

Ashley Furniture’s detailed computer tracking system means deliveries fall within a more definitive and quicker time frame, Peterson said.

“People now want instant gratification, and they’ll get that,” Peterson said.

Customers will be able to move easily between the new furniture store and Tess’ Kitchen Store, Peterson said.

A modest doorway will separate the two stores, Peterson said. Also, a waterfall, typical of Ashley Furniture stores, will greet customers coming into the store, she said.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion.com or call 477-4234.


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