Garden Ridge, a Texas-based home decor superstore, has taken over the vacant Target store southeast of Academy Boulevard and Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs.

The retailer, with 65 locations in 21 states, opened in the former Target space last week after its first Colorado store opened earlier this month in Broomfield, also in a former Target store.

Garden Ridge operates as a warehouse-style store, with tens of thousands of household items, including furniture, pillows, rugs, lamps, wall hangings, baskets, luggage, bedding and housewares. It competes with retailers such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Michaels and Wal-Mart, among others, according to business publication Dun & Bradstreet.

Jay Pegel, the store's general manager, said the Garden Ridge concept is to provide a "whole set-up" for your home.

"We really get into everything that you can use to decorate your house - walls, floors, ceilings, everything," Pegel said.

Despite its name, Garden Ridge is not a nursery or gardening store; it doesn't carry fresh plants, lawn mowers or trimmers, Pegel said. However, it does carry large selections of pots and pottery, as well as garden decor items and patio furniture. Other garden items are carried seasonally, such as hand tools and potting soils.

As a warehouse-like store, some items are carried until inventories run out, Pegel said.

"We are constantly rotating through our stock," he said.

Garden Ridge also carries seasonal merchandise, such as Christmas decorations that are already on the store's shelves.

Garden Ridge has about 20 full- and part-time employees, and emphasizes customer service for shoppers who are browsing through its many aisles, he said.

Pegel said Garden Ridge liked the growth potential of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region - an area that has seen an increase in home sales and new construction for more than a year as the economy has improved. The retailer also liked the growth of the area's military installations, he said.

Garden Ridge likes to go into big-box spaces, and the former Target store fit that profile, Pegel said. A limited liability company representing Garden Ridge bought the Target property at 335 N. Academy Blvd. for $3.5 million in late July, El Paso County land records show.

The store is about 101,000 square feet, Pegel said, although county land records list the building as about 128,000 square feet. Most Garden Ridge locations are 120,000 to 140,000 square feet, he said.

The chain's arrival boosts the central and South Academy vicinity, which the city identified as troubled areas several years ago, in part because of the loss of retailers along the corridor.

Target occupied the building from 1969 until it closed in February; at the time, Target officials cited the store's decreased profitability for its closing. Although the Target space has been filled, a former Circuit City store next door remains empty, except for seasonal uses such as the sale of Halloween merchandise.


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