It's official: the new Ashley Furniture HomeStore, which occupies the long-vacant space in the heart of Eatontown's retail district, is open for business.
"Ashley is the first jewel in the new intersection," said Mayor Gerald Tarantolo at the store's grand opening on Friday of the furniture store's location along the section of Route 35 undergoing a major construction project. "Within ten months they will be joined by other businesses looking just as fine."
The furniture showroom, which is the fourth store in New Jersey operated by Ashley Furniture HomeStore licensee Will Schafer, opened after what its owner called a "record five-week renovation."
The store brought about 30 new jobs to the area, according to Tarantolo, and was formerly occupied by Levitz until they closed their doors after filing bankruptcy in 2007.
Ashley Furniture held a soft opening on Memorial Day, beginning to sell to customers at the Eatontown location, but Friday's ceremony marked its official debut.
As part of Ashley Furniture's "core value" of giving back to the community, Schafer made donations to four local organizations that were presented to representatives from each group at Friday's ribbon cutting cermony. The donations included:
- Furniture set for Eatontown Firehouse and First Aid building;
- $200 to the Eatontown PBA;
- New living room furniture and mattresses to Spring House; Ashley Furniture also pledged to donate new mattresses to graduates from the organization;
- $5,000 worth of furniture to Coastal Habitat for Humanity's Restore in Asbury Park; Ashley Furniture will also donate customers' used furniture to be sold at the Restore.
The opening of the Eatontown location brings the total of Ashley Furniture stores nationwide to 425. Schafer also owns stores in Linden, North Brunswick and Woodbridge.
"We are excited to continue growing our business in such a tough economic time. Eatontown is a close-knit community and we are thrilled to bring our locally owned business into the market,” said Schafer.