By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
Ten days after hosting a soft opening, the new Ashley Furniture Homestore on North Reserve Street in Missoula cut the ribbon Friday and officially opened for business.
Owner Jimmy Mai and his wife, Tiffany, will continue their grand opening event throughout the weekend. The store fills a building formerly occupied by the Sports Authority at 2640 N. Reserve, and currently employs 19 people.
“We have an outlet store in Helena, and this was a big chance to move to Missoula,” said Mai. “It’s a big town and this is an A-plus site.”
Missoula currently offers an abundance of vacant box stores, including those formerly occupied by Staples and Hastings. Mai said his location on North Reserve satisfied his demands, and Missoula was a logical place to expand his business.
“I had my eye on Missoula for a good eight months,” said Mai. “I’d come out here once a week and go around town to check out the locations. We found a couple locations and finally ended up with this one here. It’s a good location.”
Mai opened his Ashley Furniture Homestore in Helena in 2015. The former Ashley store in Missoula closed in 2010. The new Missoula store has no relationship with the old store, he said.
“All Ashley home stores are individually owned and operated,” Mai added. “We’re not affiliated with the old one back then.”
Mai, who was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and spent most of his adult years in California, placed the size of the showroom at roughly 32,000 square feet. The modern appointments fit the Ashley mission, he said.
“It’s a brand new look and it’s what Ashley is looking for,” said Mail. “We have the most updated look and it’s what they want it to be. It makes it very easy for customers to shop and it makes it very enjoyable.”
Mai said he was coaxed to Montana by friends who spoke fondly of the state.
“I’ve been here for two years already,” he said. “I really like it. People out here are very nice. Things are very settled, relaxed and not so rushed like a big city. It’s a good place to raise my kids.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org