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Soft Surroundings Plans Store

St. Louis, Mo.— Home furnishings catalog and dot-com retailer Soft Surroundings ventured into the world of brick and mortar last week with the opening of the first of at least three stores to come in the next two years.

Located here, this flagship store measures 5,200 square feet and is situated in an outdoor mall called The Boulevard. The store is across the street from a Crate & Barrel.

While the store opened last week, Soft Surroundings has scheduled its grand opening for mid January.

Brick-and-mortar expansion plans currently include two more stores for next year as tests. One will be located somewhere on the East Coast, possibly Northern Virginia, and the site of the second test unit is still under consideration.

“In 2007, we are hoping to roll out to a number as yet unspecified,” said Robin Sheldon, president.

The store has been designed to have a similar feel to the Soft Surroundings catalog and Web site. It features what the company describes as “a sanctuary” where product is displayed in a lifestyle bedroom setting with all related accessories, including apparel.

But a point of difference is that the store's balance of product shifts slightly to incorporate more skincare.

“Our customers have indicated very high expectations for our retail presence,” Sheldon said.

Soft Surroundings mailed its first catalog July 19, 1999. It offers bedding and bath goods and home décor items like rugs as well as comfortable and easy-care women's clothing and footwear.

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