Ashley Furniture opened in the former Herberger’s expansive retail space in the Westgate Mall.

The showroom includes furniture displays for everything from living room sets to children’s bedrooms and covers items from accents (try a bedazzled lamp shade in a kids room) to decorative ballet dancers.

Customers can either peruse the store themselves or make an appointment with a staff member.

The other day, customers included people shopping for furnishings for a new house and someone who stopped in after a workout out at the next door Planet Fitness, which is in the former back store room for Herberger’s. But the huge retail space for the main store was empty since Herberger’s closed its retail stores in 2018.

Ashley Furniture makes living room, dining room, bedroom, entertainment, home office furniture and other home furnishings. Ashley Furniture is a returning retail store in the lakes area.

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Furniture displays stretch throughout the former department store space in the Westgate Mall in the new Ashley Furniture store. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch
Furniture displays stretch throughout the former department store space in the Westgate Mall in the new Ashley Furniture store. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Ashley Furniture HomeStore opened in Baxter in August of 2006 with about 31 employees. The furniture store opened in a portion of what was the Gander Mountain building, as a tenant in the building. By December of 2007, the Great Recession arrived. And by late November of 2008, Ashley Furniture was closing.

Ashley Furniture was founded in 1945 in Chicago. According to the company’s timeline, in 2013 the company’s wholesale sales approached $4 billion with Ashley Furniture selling over 30 million pieces annually. In 2014, the company launched Ashley Express, a direct-to-consumer delivery program and in 2016 introduced outdoor furniture as part of its offerings. Last year, the company opened its 1,000th store. This year, Ashley Furniture is celebrating 75 years in the industry.

Children's bedroom displays include a bit of whimsy. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch
Children's bedroom displays include a bit of whimsy. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Any other comments about the store to local management were referred to the corporate office.

Forbes reported the company had $5.78 billion in sales in 2018 and had 31,000 employees as of that year.

Sunshine's SummerHouse, a craft kitchen, is now open along County Highway 77 in Lake Shore in the former Jake's City Grille.

This week will mark the first time since 1883, the Dispatch isn’t printing a daily paper. We know that is a big change for many of our loyal readers. It’s a big change for those of us at the paper as well. We’ve been sharing the stories of this community since 1881. I tell our newsroom repeatedly that their work has never been more needed than in these days of 2020, where new challenges seem to arrive by the minute.

And we’ll still be doing that on a daily basis, covering government, breaking news, celebratory moments and times when people need the support of neighbors to pick up the pieces. Now our work will be on digital electronic papers for much of the week and we’ll continue to give our print subscribers valued content in Wednesday and Sunday editions. We are working to enhance both our print and digital offerings.

For those of you who made the digital jump some time ago, there will be more available to you than ever before. For those who preferred print, we know this will be an adjustment. It’s something we hoped wouldn’t happen for many years in the future. But the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on revenue from advertisers has pushed this timetable.

The paper is part of many people’s personal schedule, doing puzzles, keeping up on the latest news from their community and we know this will be an adjustment. It’s a decision that was made to help make sure we are here telling those important stories, staying late to cover council meetings and digging into details readers don’t have time to do themselves and checking sources to be sure we are sharing information that isn’t just to you quickly but that is checked for accuracy. We are asking readers to keep an open mind, try the e-edition — it is already part of your print subscription — and customers can have it emailed to them daily. See what is available to you and continue to support local journalism now and in the future. We thank you for supporting the Dispatch in the lakes area all these many years and we look forward to many more — whether that’s in print, digitally or online. Our options for storytelling and news gathering continue to change with video, photos and graphics, but our commitment to quality journalism has remained steadfast and we will continue that no matter how technology and time changes our delivery method.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.