Amazing Furniture owner plans new retail showroom in downtown Norwich

Norwich — Mark Kehlenbach, owner of Amazing Furniture in Taftville, studied the intersection of Main and North Main streets downtown here and realized thousands of cars cross through the busy intersection each day, most stopping for a time at the red lights.

All of them have a clear view of the former Floor Covering Shop building at 364 Main St./8 North Main St.

“It’s got the eyeballs,” said Kehlenbach, who purchased the vacant two-story building last week and plans to move his retail furniture showroom there by this summer.

Kehlenbach purchased the building Feb. 26 under the ownership entity 364 Main St. Norwich LLC for $300,000 from Phyllis Sayet. The building, originally an A&P Supermarket, has been vacant since 2012, when the Floor Covering Shop moved to 385 Central Ave. in Greeneville.

Kehlenbach said the building and grounds need some improvements before he can make the move. He plans to “freshen up” the building with new paint, new signs, landscaping and improvements to the 30-space parking lot on the North Main Street side.

Inside, both floors will house the new retail showroom with displays of kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and the “Dream Center Sleep Shop” mattress section. He also plans a clearance center in the building.

Amazing Furniture will retain its warehouse in the center building of the Ponemah Mill complex, but no longer will have retail there, at least at the start, Kehlenbach said.

Although the move isn’t planned until early summer, the furniture store has started its moving sale. “We have to move a 50,000-square-foot showroom into 12,000 square feet,” he said.

At the new location, the store will concentrate on its best-seller lines, Kehlenbach said, including being the New England wholesale and retail distributor for Ashley residential furniture. Amazing Furniture also carries its own line of import furniture, MEK Furniture Express.

The pending move pleased city leaders, who named improvements to key city gateways as a top priority.

Mayor Peter Nystrom remembered walking to the A&P as a youth. He said he discussed the pending move with Kehlenbach.

“It’s a very good location,” Nystrom said. “Gateways are important. Our emphasis on economic development must include the gateways.”

City Planner Deanna Rhodes agreed and called the Main/North Main/East Main intersection one of the key gateways into downtown. She hopes the retail activity and additional foot traffic will spur interest in other major vacant buildings in that block, the former YMCA building and the former Elks Club/Majestic Rose restaurant building.

Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills said he has discussed the plan with Kehlenbach over the past few months.

“He has the right attitude,” Mills said. “He told me ‘About 30,000 cars per day go through that intersection, and half of them will sit there at the light and look at me.’”

c.bessette@theday.com

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