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As Cost Plus grows, store sizes expand

Soft home equals strong sales at Cost Plus, and customers will see growth in linear space as well as in secondary presentations in the stores in this area.

"The hottest department today is the bedding department," which includes furniture, bed coverings and accessories, said Gary Weatherford, executive vice president, operations. "As good as the sales increases are, we continue to see significant increases."

Window coverings is also a strong performer, and will see some expansion this year, he told attendees at SG Cowen's Second Annual Consumer Conference. As for Bedding, window and bath — "These areas are doing well," he said.

With average stores measuring 18,000 square feet, Cost Plus has revised its potential base to be 600 stores nationwide, up from 450 previously, said John Luttrell, senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Its real estate strategy is to seek premiere locations, said Weatherford. "We're taking advantage as we grow as a national retailer and get the best locations — though not necessarily the cheapest." Now just north of 200 stores, the retailer is at a point where it is on the "radar screen" of developers, and is invited in the development stages of new shopping sites.

New stores, such as the units in Omaha and Boise, are meeting or surpassing its goals.

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