Two Shaw Avenue storefronts that have been empty for months are on their way to getting new life.
Big Lots is taking over both the Toys R Us on West Shaw Avenue in Fresno that closed this spring and the empty Rite Aid and Tuesday Morning stores on Shaw Avenue across from Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis.
But the new stores most likely won’t look like the same old Big Lots you’re familiar with.
The company is aggressively converting its stores to a “store of the future” concept that’s bigger and has an increased focus on furniture.
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Big Lots did not return several messages seeking comment about its plans. But applications for permits filed with both the City of Fresno and the City of Clovis confirm Big Lots taking over those spaces.
And Big Lots has been open about its plans to convert stores to bigger stores that look different, detailing them in its annual report.
Primarily, the stores will move their furniture departments to the front of the store. Furniture sales are an increasing source of income for the stores, which sell bedroom sets, patio furniture, couches, recliners, desks and more.
Big Lots has a growing lease-to-own program and sells mattresses online. It also recently beefed up the color and fabric options of furniture online.
The stores will move seasonal and home products to either side of the furniture, and food to the back of the store — all of it visible from the front of the store.
The stores will have longer checkout counters and fewer signs and other clutter.
In Clovis, the Big Lots will leave its current spot at Shaw and Peach avenues. The new Clovis store is about 35,000 square feet, compared to the 23,500 square-foot store its leaving behind.
The City of Clovis is working with the landlord to find a new tenant for the spot, said the city’s business development manager Shawn Miller.
The Toys R Us space in Fresno is about 35,000 square feet, though the actual sales floor space could be smaller when Big Lots moves in, averaging about 23,000 square feet companywide, the report noted.
Big Lots bid on the lease for the Toys R Us space during the toy retailer’s bankruptcy proceedings.
It’s not clear yet when the new stores will open. Construction is underway.
During 2018, Big Lots plans to open 30 new stores and close 40 of its existing locations, most of them moving to better locations in the same markets.
The company plans to convert 600 stores to the new format by 2020.