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Warehouse-Chic Home Express Stores Target Upscale Shoppers in County

November 09, 1987|Mary Ann Galante, Times Staff Writer

R.H. Macy isn't even here yet, but it already has a competitor.

Home Express, a chain of home accessories stores, made its grand entree into Southern California Friday by opening 55,000-square-foot stores in Buena Park and Huntington Beach.

The chain's stores feature an art deco look and operate as a kind of combination discount house and specialty shop--or sort of warehouse chic.

"We're like five specialty shops mixed into one," said Don Phillips, vice president of operations.

There are lots of linens, sheets and comforters--alongside acres of dinnerware, cutlery and cookware. Then there's a huge electronics area, ready-to-assembly furniture and a "kids express" section with easel chalkboards and hide-a-bed tents. An "organization shop" is bulging with shelves, dividers and rows of multicolored plastic bins, bins and more bins of all kinds--for stacking, garbage and trash.

Home Express' pitch is that it offers quality merchandise at good prices and that it will match lower price tags at other stores.

In Northern California--where the Hayward-based chain began--it competes with Macy's. And small wonder. Home Express is owned by U.S. Venture Partners, which has as its general partners Philip Schlein, former chief executive of Macy's California, and Stuart Moldaw, creator of Ross Stores.

With the new Orange County sites, the Hayward-based chain will have five stores. The others are in Fremont, Fresno and Las Vegas.

Here, Phillips said, Home Express has its ideal demographic mix of upscale shoppers with above-average incomes.

Home Express plans to open 54 stores in six Western states by 1990.

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