JUSTIN SORENSEN / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES | Chuck Hooser of CNH Home Improvements does paint preparation Friday at the future showroom for Morrison’s Furniture at the former DealMaker Plaza on Arsenal Street. Morrison’s Furniture on Factory Street will remain open during the reconstruction project and will have a showroom on Arsenal Street.
Watertown, NY, April 13, 2015 - To help the business survive the city’s Factory Street reconstruction project and avoid laying off employees, Morrison’s Furniture is slated to open a showroom in early June at the former DealMaker building on Arsenal Street.
The business will not close its Factory Street headquarters, however, during the two-year reconstruction project expected to start in late June, according to David A. Morrison.
Mr. Morrison, a third-generation co-owner of the family business with his sister, Cheryl E. Pastor, said the building at 1068 Arsenal St. was leased this month from owner P.J. Simao, an Alexandria Bay developer.
Mr. Morrison said Mr. Simao decided to replace the building’s leaky roof before the showroom opens — a project that began in March and is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Workers hired by Morrison’s, meanwhile, are repainting the building’s interior.
Mr. Morrison said Friday that opening the Arsenal Street showroom was a key survival tactic for the business, as traffic along Factory Street is expected to plummet sharply during the project. He touted the benefits of traffic flow on Arsenal Street, which he described as “a step up” from Factory Street traffic.
“We’re doing it to keep operations profitable,” said the 55-year-old, who predicted that traffic on Factory Street “could be down by at least 50 percent” during the project. “The alternative might have been to lay people off, and I don’t want to do that.”
The store has a staff of 20 full-time and six part-time employees.
A portion of its staff will be relocated to the Arsenal Street showroom, he said, and additional employees could be hired as needed.
Mr. Morrison said the new showroom is expected to draw new residents in the Watertown area who still might not be familiar with the furniture store. He cited the location’s proximity to new housing complexes, including the Beaver Meadow Apartments off Arsenal Street and the Preserve at Autumn Ridge off County Route 202.
“The loyal customers here have become older and don’t need as much new furniture. We’ve needed to become more aggressive to attract new customers,” he said, adding that the business began to sell merchandise earlier this year on its website.
Depending on its success, the Arsenal Street location could remain open after the two-year project, Mr. Morrison said. But he emphasized that no plans have been made to close the six-story Factory Street building, which will continue to be stocked with furniture.
It will serve as a distribution center for the new showroom, which will showcase a selection of furniture for living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms.
The business has leased about 16,000 square feet in the building, he said, but it did not lease former garage space.
But Mr. Morrison said the Factory Street building — whose floors encompass a total of about 90,000 square feet — isn’t expected to be sold, regardless of the Arsenal Street location’s performance. The business will continue to rely on storage space afforded by the building, he said, along with a warehouse building at the rear, which has about 35,000 square feet of storage space.
Mr. Morrison said the business will continue to encourage people to shop during the reconstruction project at the Factory Street store, even though he acknowledged it will be “off the beaten path.”
He said advertisements made by the business during the project will encourage people to use Polk Street — which runs from State Street to Factory Street — for convenient access to the store’s rear parking lot.
Mr. Morrison, employed 41 years at the Factory Street store, said it has “a lot of nostalgia” in the community. He said he believes it’s possible that the Factory and Arsenal street locations will complement each other well and have long-term success.
He said he hopes that closing the Factory Street store will never have to be considered.
“I would find it very hard to swallow,” said Mr. Morrison, whose grandfather, Joseph J. Morrison, founded the business in 1921.
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