Carter's on Prospect to be merged into Urbana location

URBANA — Carter's Furniture will consolidate its Champaign and Urbana stores at the Urbana location later this year, company President Allen Carter Jr. said.

The Carter's on Prospect store at 1705 S. Prospect Ave., C, is expected to close by the end of November, with its staff and much of its merchandise moving to the store at 410 N. Vine St., U. Eventually, a portion of the Urbana store will be redesigned to duplicate the "ambience" of the Champaign store, Carter said. Thomasville and Drexel Heritage collections, along with other name brands, will be featured in an expanded "designer gallery" on the east side of the Urbana store.

The move will create the largest name-brand home-furnishings showroom in East Central Illinois, with more than 40,000 square feet of display space under one roof, he added. Both stores will begin an inventory-reduction sale in early September, and staff from the Champaign store will transfer in stages to Urbana.Carter said he expects the transition to "move fairly quickly" and be complete by the end of October or November. Carter's has 37 employees, with five of them working from the Champaign store, said V.B. "Bud" Leister Jr., president of Carter's Building Corp.

Carter's Furniture, established in 1954, opened the Champaign store in 1976. For several years, the Champaign location was known as Interior Galleries by Carter's, but later became Carter's on Prospect. Leister said that building is being listed for sale or lease. Originally the home of a Weberg Furniture store, the building has about 15,000 square feet, of which 11,000 square feet is showroom space. "We are currently talking with developers about alternative uses for the Champaign location," Leister said. "It is a highly visible central location, and I am confident that we will soon announce a new occupant for that property."

Delivery, processing and receiving functions for the Champaign store have already moved to Urbana, Carter said. "In the last few years, we've found it more economical to run support functions through this location," he said of the 65,000-square-foot Urbana facility, which includes 25,000 square feet of warehouse and office space.

Carter and Leister said they have noticed more customers at both locations. Consolidating the stores should make it more convenient for those who want to see everything, they said. The two stores have some variation in merchandise, with the Champaign store tending to carry higher-quality merchandise, especially in sofas, love seats and chairs, Carter said. Once the two stores consolidate, the Urbana location will have a "broader range of price, quality and selection," spanning "good, better and best" furniture, he said. Over the winter, the company plans to make physical changes inside and outside the Urbana building and hold a "grand reopening" next spring to show off the changes, he said.

Carter's father, Allen Carter Sr., established Carter's Moving and Storage, a Mayflower agency, in 1950. The family operated that business until 2003, when it was sold. The family also operated a travel agency, Carter's Travel Service, from 1964 to 1987, when it merged with Busey Travel to form Busey-Carter Travel. The furniture business at one time had stores in Danville, Decatur, Charleston and Bloomington.