Ballard Designs Opens First Store

To celebrate its silver anniversary, Ballard Designs is headed to the mall. The home decor, gifts, and garden accessories cataloger this week opens its first store, in the Tampa, FL-based International Plaza.

The Atlanta-based mailer operates two Ballard’s Backroom outlets in Georgia and a Ballard Designs outlet location in West Chester, OH. The 12,000 sq.-ft. Tampa store is in retail space formerly occupied by Lord & Taylor.

Why get into retail now? “There’s a natural maturity for any home furnishing catalog–having an online presence and a catalog is not enough to grow the business at the level that we desire,” explains company president Michael Ippolito. “In order to hedge against this inherent maturity, we have embarked into retail to continue to fuel the long-term growth of Ballard Designs.”

Company research that revealed that Florida “should be an important piece in our retail expansion,” he says. In fact, Ballard Designs’ next store opening will be in Jacksonville in the fall.

“We feel there are potentially hundreds of markets we could put stores in, but we are going to be smart about the decisions we make to ensure we do this right,” Ippolito says. “We will continue to open stores when it makes sense for the company, the customers, and the real estate that is available.” Ippolito, former president of bedding and accessories title Domestications, joined Ballard Designs in July 2002.

Founded by Helen Ballard Weeks in 1982, Ballard Designs was acquired by Cornerstone Brands in 1997. Cornerstone, whose titles include Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Smith & Noble, and TravelSmith, was bought by HSN parent company IAC/Interactive Corp. in 2005.