The amphitheater on the Gamble Home campus has become a community destination in Jonesboro, Ark. Photo courtesy of Gamble Home.

How 1 Arkansas retailer built a destination in its backyard

JONESBORO, Ark. — As Gamble Home has grown business here, it’s also grown its place as part of the fabric of its community.

The Jonesboro, Ark.-based retailer has a 13-acre campus with 70,000 square feet of showroom space across multiple buildings and an amphitheater, where it hosts a slew of activities, including non-profit events, movie nights and concerts. Its place as a shopping destination is also solidified, as owner Chris Gamble estimates Gamble Home has a mid-30s local market share.

The brand was founded in 1990 by Chris Gamble’s parents, Dan and Wanda Gamble as a 600-square-foot store in the nearby small town of Manila, Ark. The younger Gamble bought them out in 1998 and grew the brand until he moved it to Jonesboro in 2007. The operation has survived the Great Recession, tornadoes, the pandemic and more over the years.

“We’re a locally owned furniture store, started in 1990. I’ve grown up in the business; it’s the only thing I’ve ever done,” Gamble told Furniture Today. “I had to learn how to grind it out every day, which is what we’ve done.”

When Gamble moved the bulk of operations to Jonesboro, a new grind began in earnest. He began acquiring land and expanding in this town of 75,000 residents and home of Arkansas State University. Today, the seven-building campus includes a 52,000-square-foot distribution center. Gamble also has a 49,000-square-foot DC off the campus, as well as three Ashley stores in neighboring towns in northeast Arkansas.

“When we bought this, we started with two acres. When we began, we only had 9,000 square feet of showroom,” Gamble said. “Over the years, we’ve grown to 70,000 square feet on campus, plus the distribution centers. As we’ve done it, our sales have increased incrementally as well. Our sales per square foot have increased over the past five years. Our average ticket is really high.”

Gamble’s proclivity toward helping the community is also high. “Anybody who’s local knows we give back,” Gamble said.

Some of the highlights of givebacks include a backpack drive ahead of Back-to-School season, a toy drive in December, support for the battle against breast cancer and making sure local children have a place to sleep with its “Buy a Bed, Give a Bed” campaign.

“We give 500 to 600 beds away every year to local charities. Anybody who buys a bed, we’ll donate to a charity in their name,” Gamble said.

The amphitheater on the Gamble Home campus has become a community destination in Jonesboro, Ark. Photo courtesy of Gamble Home.

The on-campus amphitheater is also used to help local charities and becomes a place where families can gather throughout the year.

“We do a lot of nonprofit events out here and let people use the stage for those events. We do movie nights on Thursday nights in the fall when it gets cooler. We’ll do 12 to 15 a year, and we’ll have concerts four or five different times throughout the year,” Gamble said. “The other day, we had one for the solar eclipse. We had the perfect weather and a perfect sky for it. We had people all the way from Minnesota with their big telescopes in our courtyard. We had a local band and about 400 people here on the two-acre courtyard.”

With so much space and multiple buildings, one might think it could be difficult for customers to shop. Gamble said they’ve got that covered, and customers can find everything from Ashley to Norwalk to Bassett to Universal, among other key brands.

“We’ve got golf carts, since we’re on such a big campus, to shuttle people around from building to building all day,” he said. “That’s one of the things we’ve taken advantage of. When we can get people on a golf cart with us and take the journey with us, our close rate is higher than the industry average.”

And with such a different approach to retail and the community, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gamble Home has a different approach to the ins and outs of business.

“Our culture is one of the things that you will not find anywhere else in any other furniture store,” said Kaula McLaughlin, vice president of marketing and purchasing. “We are not your typical furniture store. It’s kind of laid back here; you won’t find people in suits and ties. You come here for the experience.”

See also:

  • Customers want the furniture shopping experience, so ‘submerge’ them in it
  • High-end furniture collection offers new twist on ‘design destination’

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