Local family-owned McAleer’s Office Furniture is celebrating its 40th anniversary Friday, March 22, at their 3305 Springhill Ave., location in Mobile from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Food, drinks, door prizes and swag bags for the first 150 guests arriving will be offered.
Considering its history, company president Melissa Cross is thankful McAleer’s survived their first year in business. “Hurricane Frederic struck in September of 1979, only 6 months after opening. The city and much of the area did not have power. My dad had to close the store, and for 2 weeks assisted with hurricane damage assessments,” Cross said.
Educated as a chemist, founder and family patriarch Jim McAleer was working in the construction industry in the 1970s. He was involved in the development of a building for an office furniture company in Mobile on Dauphin Island Parkway when the property unexpectedly caught fire. The building’s owners at the time decided not to continue work on the site after the accident, deciding instead to get out of the business entirely.
“They had gotten to know dad and encouraged him to go into the industry because no one was refinishing and selling used office furniture,” Cross said. “He knew he didn’t want to be in construction forever, and wanted to own his own business. He decided open a store selling just used and refinished office furniture. Shortly thereafter, he started selling new office furniture as well.”
Taking out a home equity loan, McAleer’s Office Furniture was born. The first location was a 3,000 square foot space located at 2653 Springhill Ave. In the beginning the only full-time workers were McAleer, his wife and one full-time employee.
With a family that eventually blossomed into a full house of seven, all of the children wound up working there while growing up. None remained after college, however, choosing pursuits in other careers through the early 2000s.
Finding success after a rough start, the company moved to its present day site at 3305 Springhill Ave., in 1983 with an initial footprint of 14,000 square feet. In 1985 a 9,000 square foot Pensacola store was opened. Expansions continued throughout the 1980s, slowing down near the end of the decade with the purchase of Port City Tool. In 2014 a final upgrade of 9,000 square feet was made, creating a used furniture showroom. To date, McAleers boasts a space of 48,000 square feet.
Currently McAleer’s has 19 full-time employees, with the most tenured worker approaching 30 years. In 2015 Jim McAleer retired. In 2018, youngest daughter Sarah McAleer returned as vice-president of business development.
“The biggest challenge for any brick and mortar store today is to embrace the online environment that shoppers want at a competitive price. We have our own online catalog, managed internally. Since we have been here for 40 years, we are able to leverage our buying power to ensure that our prices stay competitive.” Cross said.
“We also intend to grow through expansion into new markets. Plans are in place to explore Baldwin County for a new retail location. Although we currently serve this area with deliveries every week, we’d like to provide people with a physical location, without the drive.”
Business moves, transactions
BarKing Optical recently held a ribbon cutting for their new 1,300 square foot space situated downtown at 9 Dauphin St., in downtown Mobile. The local business is co-owned by optician Dr. JoAnne King and optometrist Becky Barlar-Lyons.
“BarKing Optical began when we acquired my father’s practice, founded in Mobile 66 years ago,” daughter Becky Barlar-Lyons said. “He started out in a 700 square foot office at 56 S. Royal St. and worked there for 22 years until moving into the old First National Bank building at the RSA Tower in 1980.”
Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County recently held a grand opening for its new eastern shore ReStore retail site, located at 900 N. Main St. in Daphne. The roughly 10,000 square foot space offers new and gently used home merchandise, marked down 50 percent from retail, according to manager Heather Eddington. The nonprofit is supplied and sustained by private and corporate donations from local partners in the surrounding areas. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Taylor Martino, P.C. Personal Injury Lawyers has subleased 7,925 square feet of space located at the Buick Building at 455 St. Louis Street in Mobile. The law firm is relocating from its current downtown location on St. Joseph Street. David Dexter of NAI Mobile who represented the current tenant, Wink Engineering, and John Vallas of Vallas Realty worked for the tenant in the transaction.
Cavender’s Western Wear outfitter has purchased some 85,000 square feet of land in the shopping center located at 32000 Bass Pro Drive, between Urban Air and La-Z-Boy. The retailer plans to soon build a 15,000-square-foot store on the site. This is their third Alabama location, with current stores in Huntsville and Birmingham. Angie McArthur, broker associate with Stirling Properties, represented the property owners in the transaction.
Salon West Hairdressers recently opened up a new 2,200 square foot studio at 1751 Old Shell Rd., Suite A in Mobile. This is the second site for the locally-owned business, according to co-owners Julia Liller and Whitney Vittor. The business employs six stylists at the new space. Steve Stone with dakinstreet architects designed the new spot in midtown.
Happy Cajun, a restaurant and bar, is leasing roughly 4,000 square feet of retail space located at 25000 Bass Pro Drive next to Fairways, and plans to open in the fall. Angie McArthur with Stirling Properties, represented the property owners in the lease transaction. Amanda Goldman, leasing executive with Stirling Properties, worked for the tenant.
Scott Miller, owner of Fairhope-based Fluid Motion Fabrication, recently reported the opening of a new 1,200 square foot retail showcase space for his company, located at 50 S. Church St. in downtown Fairhope. The new shop will showcase custom signage and architectural metal design work provided for customers in the Baldwin County area.
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