IMS sets its designs on deals in new store

  • Article by: CONNIE NELSON
  • Star Tribune
  • January 27, 2010 - 5:46 PM

Since it opened in 1985, Minneapolis' International Market Square has been home to some of the most exclusive furnishing showrooms in the business -- Holly Hunt, Schumacher, Baker.

As of March 4, it'll also be home to a discount store.

That's when Edina designer Sharon Allemong plans to open the Sale Room @ IMS. The 1,300-square-foot store, modeled after discount stores popping up in design centers nationwide, will offer floor samples, discontinued items and closeouts from the 75 showrooms, most of which sell to the trade only.

The Sale Room won't be the design center's only retail store, said IMS general manager Carolyn Olson. (Kitchen and bath stores on the first floor also sell directly to the public.) But it will be the first store that deals in deals.

And that could ruffle the feathers of some of the interior designers who work and shop for their clients in the building.

"There may be people who are afraid that I'll discount the IMS brand," Allemong conceded, but she sees the store as "an answer for everyone: It'll be a better way for showrooms to liquidate inventory, and it will help IMS in that the public will feel more comfortable about going there. My hope is that people will start to discover that IMS isn't this big, scary building."

Allemong and Olson say the store, which will be open all year (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday), won't compete with the annual three-day sample sale sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

"There's so much merchandise around that everyone is going to have plenty when the ASID sale rolls around in November," Allemong said. And to "play nice in the sandbox," she plans to give designers a sneak peek at new merchandise on Wednesday afternoons.

Olson said IMS has been looking for an efficient way to deal with excess inventory and build traffic.

"I can't say we're doing this just because of the economy," she said. "Everybody is always looking for a deal."


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