One of Hatboro’s largest commercial vacancies is on its way to being filled again.
In a matter of months, Aaron’s - a chain store specializing in lease-to-own office furniture, electronics and home appliances - is planning to set up shop in the former Big Marty’s carpet store at 317 S. York Road, according to Hatboro Main Street Manager Stephen Barth.
“I’ve been working with them for over a year. They had looked at pretty much all our anchor properties,” Barth told Patch. “That one makes the borough look more empty than it really is.”
The Big Marty's property has been empty for three or four years, Barth said.
Two investors are in the process of buying the 10,000-square-foot structure, Barth said. Settlement on the property is expected soon, he added. Meanwhile, Aaron’s representatives signed a lease last week, Barth said, which gives the investors an assurance that they have a “long-term tenant.”
Barth would not disclose the purchase price, the names of the investors, or lease specifications. Hatboro Aaron’s store franchise owner, Bandy Saluja, also declined to provide lease specifications.
"Whenever we get into any market, we look at it from a long-term perspective of being there at least eight to 10 years," Saluja said.
The store is expected to open in mid to late July following modifications to the outside and inside, Saluja said.
"It’s going to be a very expensive rehab, a gut rehab," Saluja said of the work needed, adding that a new roof, a resurfaced parking lot, new electrical and new building framing were all part of the plan. "The four walls are going to be left intact."
When Patch last month announced the possibility of Aaron’s moving into the borough, Patch users voiced concerns and, in some cases, opposition.
Barth, in addressing some of the criticism, told Patch that the store offers “high-end name-brand furniture and appliances.”
“It’s beautiful. They really do nice stuff,” he said. “Their motto is basically lease-to-own.”
Saluja, who is also the franchise owner for the 2-year-old Aaron's in Easton, said that the retailer provides "flexible payment options," which are particularly helpful to customers in this tough economy.
"It definitely helps that a consumer has options other than paying cash or putting it on a credit card," Saluja said of the lease-to-own option, in which items are paid down over a 12, 18 or 24-month time frame.
According to its Web site, Aaron’s operates more than 1,800 stores in 48 states and Canada, including a location in Wyncote, which is about six miles away from the planned Hatboro store.
Saluja said the retailer will hire eight to 10 full-time employees, as well as two to four seasonal, part-time positions for the Hatboro store. Like its customer base - which Saluja said is comprised of 90 percent of people living within a 15-mile radius of the store - Saluja said Aaron's will hire within and give back to the community it serves.
Since Aaron’s will be open later at night than most borough businesses, Barth said it will “draw more people into the borough.”
“Having a nice retail store will be good for us,” Barth said, adding that he believes closing time will be 10 p.m.
But, some worry that it might hurt another large anchor store – Gamburg’s Furniture. Not so, said Barth.
“The more you have them the more people come for those kinds of goods and services,” Barth said of like stores, adding that car dealerships are oftentimes situated close together. “It actually improves business for both of them.”