LAKELAND | Pull up a chair: Leader's Casual Furniture is expanding to South Lakeland.
The Largo-based chain has acquired the property at 4505 S. Florida Ave. and will open its 19th store there. Company representative Ashley Newton said the new location is expected to open within eight to 12 weeks.
"We already had buyers from the Lakeland market coming to our Brandon, Tampa and Orlando locations," Newton said. "The area has grown. We feel like we're not servicing that base as well as we could, and the new location gives us an excellent opportunity."
Leader's was established in 1971 and specializes in rattan, wicker and patio furniture. The business has 11 stores in the Central Florida area and operates seven locations in South Florida.
The company last expanded in December 2013, when it opened a store in Vero Beach. Newton said that Leader's has no current plans to expand into other new markets.
"Growth is important to us, with control," she said. "We wait for great opportunities to present themselves; we don't go searching."
Leader's will be moving into the former Heritage House Home Interiors shop on South Florida Avenue. The 20,000-square-foot location, which previously was an Ethan Allen, has been vacant since December 2013.
"We had a few interested buyers. ... It was a good property. It just took time to close it," said Jim Steinbauer of Steinbauer Associates, which handled the deal.
"There's not a lot of buildings that are ready to go in the South Lakeland market. There's some smaller spaces, but nothing in that 10,000- to 20,000-square-foot range."
[ Kyle Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7584. ]