Mark Jackson expands Ashley Furniture selection to new location on the square
Mark Jackson’s Ashley Furniture at 318 E. Coolbaugh is open and ready to help customers with a wide variety of furniture needs.
The new storefront has opened at the former Brown’s Shoe Fit Company location, which left Red Oak about five years ago. The building was purchased by Jackson’s father-in-law, Tom Carder, and inherited in 2020 by Mark’s wife Ann Carder.
Before bringing in Ashley Furniture, Jackson said they spent many years attempting to bring another shoe store or clothing retailer into the building, to no avail.
“We spent about four years seeking out a clothing or shoe retailer. Montgomery County Development Corporation (MCDC) hired Retail Strategies, and they were unsuccessful bringing anyone to this location as well. We were already selling Ashley Furniture through Hardware Hank through a small display with a kiosk, and we outgrew it pretty quickly. So last fall, in October, Ann suggested that if we didn’t get any retailers in by January of this year, we should remodel the Brown’s building and make it an Ashley Furniture Store. She really felt it would work,” commented Jackson.
They started remodeling the building in February, and were able to finish the remodel in June. However, Jackson said additional time was needed to get the store fully ready.
“When you have truckloads of furniture rolling in, we had to assemble it and put it on display, and then get the artwork and accessories on the walls, and lay out the rugs and put the furniture on those rugs. We didn’t want rows and rows of furniture. We wanted it set up in groupings. We wanted it to look like it would in someone’s home, and I feel we’ve done a good job. We had good help from Ashley in laying things out so it will look good in someone’s home,” said Jackson. “The store had a soft opening in June. We only had one grouping set up and the rest were in boxes laid out all over the building. The doors were open, and we could show people items on the kiosk, and we did that for a few months.”
Jackson said he’s been working with Ashley representatives located right here in Iowa, which helped them get an appropriate selection of products.
“We had spoken with Ashley representatives in Las Vegas, Nev., and Minneapolis, Minn., but I knew we wanted stuff that would sell in Iowa. The three reps I worked with here in Iowa were in agreement and advised me to go with merchandise that sells in rural communities like Red Oak. They helped us bring in our inventory,” stated Jackson. “They did a great job. All the selections on display are so popular, people that come in tell us the furniture and accessories are exactly what they are looking for. Our Iowa reps with Ashley did a great job.”
Jackson stressed that Mark Jackson’s Ashley Furniture is an Ashley furniture dealer, not an Ashley Home Store.
“We didn’t buy a franchise, and we don’t pay monthly franchise fees, we’re an independent dealer. This allows us to offer our furniture and accessories at lower prices to our customers. We buy furniture, we display it, affordably, and we have free layaway, free assembly, and free delivery. We’re privately owned.”
The idea to expand to the new location, Jackson said, was also well received after sharing the idea during a meeting with corporate representatives from Hardware Hank. This has allowed Jackson to do some remodeling at the hardware store.
“After we got the furniture moved out, we moved the office supply department from the second to the first floor. People have loved that. That also allowed us to move the sporting goods department from the third to the second floor. All of those things have worked really well, and the feedback has been great. All the staff at the hardware store were excited as well,” said Jackson.
Jackson also welcomed the opportunity to bring something new, and useful, to the Red Oak downtown.
“This was something that there was a specific need for in our community because of the loss, over the last 10 years, of two other furniture stores here in Red Oak. It’s great to be able to offer these products, and offer the service we like to do in the hardware store in our Ashley Furniture store. People don’t have to leave Red Oak and Southwest Iowa to see something that looks really nice the way they’d ordinarily have to go to the big city to see. There are no big city salespeople here trying to get you to buy something you don’t want either. We can fit into your home the perfect selections you’re looking for within your budget.”
The store offers living room, bedroom, and office furniture selections, as well as regular, rocker, and power recliners with heat and massage, power lift chairs, lamps for both home and office, wall art, large clocks, mirrors, side tables, coffee tables, china cabinets, entertainment centers, and dining room tables and chairs. Multiple sectionals are on display as well. Entertainment centers and dining room sets have been popular sellers. Also, Jackson said while the groupings are priced as sets, people can buy the pieces they want.
“We can build it the way they want. For example, we have dining room sets that are four chairs and a bench. If someone wants four chairs, or they want a table with two benches, we can build it to suit the customer’s house and their family,” Jackson said.
While the store boasts a large selection of furniture and accessories, Jackson said they have a kiosk available for all customers to help them find the perfect piece they’re looking for.
“If someone wants, say, a recliner, but they don’t like the color we have in the store, we can search the item on the kiosk, and it will bring up everything in the grouping. From there, we can see what other colors are available. Also, the only things that come up on the kiosk are things that are stocked in the Ashley Furniture warehouse in Arcadia, Wis. It ships from there to Des Moines, and then comes through a trucking company and is delivered here,” explained Jackson. “There might be merchandise that Ashley makes in California, but if they don’t stock it in Arcadia, it’s not going to show up on our kiosk.”
Another feature, Jackson said, is that they can give exact delivery times on any items that customers order.
“We have a dealer website for ordering. When I look the number up, it will tell me if the item is in stock in the warehouse or not. If the warehouse doesn’t have it in stock, I can then tell them that it will be in the warehouse in two weeks, and the customer will get it in three to four weeks if they order it. We’re always going to be up front and honest with our customers,” advised Jackson. “We’re always going to work with people that way, and it’s worked out really well. We’re not going to mislead people, we treat them the way we want to be treated. We don’t want to be in a situation where we tell someone an item will be here in two weeks, then tell them after that time frame it’s going to be another six to eight weeks. Ashley has given us the tools with the kiosk and computer system to allow us to work with folks.”
Another positive, Jackson said, is that with COVID-19 in the rear view mirror, supply chain issues are ceasing.
“In my TV and appliance department, for the past few years, it’s been challenging. We were getting products, but it took longer. As of right now, I have nothing on backorder in TVs and appliances, and I have nothing on backorder in Ashley Furniture. When I order for either department, within two weeks, I’ve got it here. Is that going to be true on every piece? Maybe not, but we’re in really good shape in the supply chain on all of the products we get through Hardware Hank.
Jackson said the store has been well-received by people in and outside of Southwest Iowa.
“The turn around on our items has been great. We haven’t been open that long, but I want to express my appreciation to everyone that has supported us so well, not only for this short time, but over the years. We appreciate that, and I appreciate being in Southwest Iowa and Red Oak. The people understand that we’re trying to offer things that people want and need,”
Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10 am. to 5 p.m., and Jackson said they have also added Saturday hours.
“We have added Saturday hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. My lovely wife Ann has volunteered to work Saturdays. We’ve also hired two additional hardware store staff as well. If someone wants to view the furniture during the hours the Ashley Furniture store is not open, we can open it by appointment. They can just come over to Hardware Hank at 315 E. Reed St., or call us at (712) 623-2290. It’s no problem for us to come across the square and open the store for them. We’ll show them anything they want to look at, and there’s no strings attached. That’s how we like to treat our friends, neighbors, and customers of Red Oak and Southwest Iowa.”