published Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Garden Ridge store sprouts in East Ridge, Tenn.

Screen shot of the Garden Ridge website.
Screen shot of the Garden Ridge website.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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GARDEN RIDGE AT A GLANCE

Headquarters: Houston

Number of stores: 61

Local store: 482 McBrien Road, one of three in Tennessee

Store size: 100,000 square feet

Opening date: Late June or early July

Products: Flowers, furniture, outdoor accessories, household goods, art

Coming soon: One-stop shopping: fireworks and floral arrangements.

The owners of Garden Ridge, a Houston-based crafting and home-decorating chain, will within about a month launch a store at 482 McBrien Road, right next to TNT Fireworks.

Once Garden Ridge opens -- either later this month or at the beginning of the next, according to the developer who leases the land -- it will occupy about 100,000 square feet of the 117,000 square foot building. The fireworks shop takes up the other part. The building used to house a Sears Essentials, and before that a Kmart.

East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said the city has needed a new chain store since Sears Essentials left after a 2009 flood.

That departure hurt the city's finances. According to East Ridge's 2010 audit, "[Tax] revenues were approximately $500,000 down from projections, due largely to the loss of a major retailer" in September 2009.

"We're excited about it," Lambert said. "... There used to be [a Garden Ridge] outside of Nashville. They're pretty large."

Just one afternoon at Garden Ridge -- and enough disposable income -- could fill your whole house. The store sells rugs for your floors, art for your walls and Tiki torches for your yards.

Also, furniture for your living room, dining room and bedroom. And flowers. A lot of flowers. Flowers for summer time, flowers for harvest time, flowers for Christmas time.

This newest store will be the 61st Garden Ridge in the United States, and the third in Tennessee. There is already one in Knoxville, and another in Memphis.

John Turley, a developer in Knoxville, has leased the building for the last two years. He originally planned to turn it into a market, but after he sub-let about 20,000 of the building's square feet to TNT Fireworks last year, he realized the area was better suited to house shops.

Turley already leased some land to Garden Ridge in Knoxville last year, and in April the company agreed to come to East Ridge. Since then, Turley said, the company has spent about $1.2 million to renovate the building.

In 2004, according to the St. Louis Business Journal, Garden Ridge filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. AEA Investors, a private equity firm, acquired the company in 2011.

AEA Investors employees in the firm's New York and Connecticut offices did not return calls seeking comment Monday. Garden Ridge's website, does not list a phone number for its corporate offices.

Calls to local Garden Ridge stores go straight to an automated message. You cannot speak with a human.

"They don't want to be bothered," said Turley, who declined to say whom from Garden Ridge he communicates with. "If you don't know them, they're impossible to reach."

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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