LUMBERTON — Kimbrell’s, a retail landmark in downtown Lumberton for more than 40 years, is heading northward.
The furniture company, whose distribution center is headquartered in Charlotte, is relocating to 4301 Fayetteville Road, the site of the former Cox furniture store. Cox just recently closed its Lumberton store.
Kimbrell’s, which specializes in the sale of furniture, bedding, appliances, and electronics, is currently located at the corner of Chestnut and Third streets, in a building that was constructed during 1898 and 1899. Before becoming a furniture store, the building housed a funeral home and an insurance agency.
The 15,000-square-foot building, that now consists of three floors of merchandise, is in need of repairs.
“We considered repairing the building, but when we learned how much it was going to cost it just wasn’t feasible,” said Cathy Lewis, the store’s manager who has worked in various positions with Kimbrell’s in Lumberton since February of 1972.
Lewis said that the new store, which is a one-story, 43,000-square-foot structure, will increase Kimbrell’s local customer base, as well as provide almost three times the space for showrooms and offices. There is also a warehouse and loading dock connected to the building, an important amenity the present store lacks, the manager said.
“We’ll be a little more upscale at the new store,” Lewis said. “But we want to be able to continue catering to our present customers as well as serve the needs of future customers. It’s the friendliness and attitude toward our customers that keep them coming back.”
The manager said that Kimbrell’s has done well in Lumberton over the years, serving the full-housing needs of repeat customers.
“There are customers coming in today that tell me I sold furniture to their grandparents,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that Kimbrell’s has thrived in Lumberton since it opened its doors in 1971. The company had bought out the local Furniture Appliance Exchange, owned by Joe Butler Sr. Butler worked for Kimbrell’s about a year under manager Jim Gardner. of Gaffney, S.C., before becoming the store’s manager, Lewis said. Later, Joe Butler Jr., now the director of physician recruitment for Southeastern Regional Medical Center, managed Kimbrell’s Lumberton store.
Lewis, who was a cashier and office manager for the store before becoming manager in March 2006, said that of the store’s 13 employees, she has worked at the store for the longest period of time.
“I’ve been here so long that when we move I’m going to find it hard to get my car to go in a new direction,” she said.
Lewis said that plans are for the store to relocate to the Fayetteville Road site in early or mid-March. She added that although the move is good for Kimbrell’s, it’s not so good for downtown Lumberton, which like so many other small towns is seeing businesses move out of their traditional downtown business districts.
“We need more businesses in the downtown,” Lewis said.
Dick Taylor, who operates an insurance business in a building across the street from Kimbrell’s, agrees that downtown Lumberton is suffering from loss of businesses.
“I was disappointed when I heard Kimbrell’s is moving,” Taylor said. “They were a good addition to the downtown. I hate to see them leave.”
Kimbrell’s currently has 55 stores located in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Included among the stores are two in Fayetteville, one in Laurinburg, and one in Sanford. There are also stores in Florence and Cheraw, S.C.
The first Kimbrell’s furniture store was established in 1915 on Hampton Street in Columbia, S.C. Three men, W. Earle Kimbrell, Walter Kimbrell, and H.A. Taylor each invested $1,000 in the business.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.