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Crate&Barrel Already Eyes Growth for Lincoln Hub

Only weeks after opening its 210,500 square-foot distribution center in Lincoln County, Crate&Barrel is talking expansion. Last week, the furniture retailer dedicated its $8.7 million facility, which has opened in Lincoln County Industrial Park with 16 employees. John Ling, vice president of logistics and operations, predicts the operation will expand to 400,000 square feet and 50 employees within a few years. In addition, Crate&Barrel plans to open its first Charlotte store within a year. The chain’s only retail operation in North Carolina is in Raleigh’s Crabtree Valley Mall. A company spokeswoman confirms Crate&Barrel is considering the South Park area for the Charlotte store but hasn’t signed a lease. The key to the company’s growth in Lincoln County will be the distribution hub’s proximity to suppliers such as McCreary Modern Inc., in Newton, Southern Furniture Co. in Conover and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in Taylorsville, Ling says. “We keep about 80% of upholstered product here.” The Keith Corporation of Charlotte developed the distribution center on 16 acres and is leasing it to Crate&Barrel. The furniture retailer will receive an $180,000 incentive grant from Lincoln County that will be paid over five years. Crate&Barrel is the business name for Euromarket Design Inc., a Northbrook, Illinois company founded in 1962. The chain has more than 130 stores in 25 markets. The Crate&Barrel project continues the steady growth of the county industrial park. Since 1999, the development off U.S. Highway 321, north of Lincolnton, has grown to over 2 million square feet from a single 200,000 square foot tire distribution plant, with park employment rising to 1,600 from 30. “The demand has been great,” says Barry Matherly, executive director of Lincoln Economic Development Association. “And all that growth has been during a down economy.”