Looking for a new La-Z-Boy? You won't find it at Arhaus. In fact, you won't find any brand name furniture at this upscale furniture retailer. The Cleveland-based chain specializes in one-of-a-kind items and works with skilled artisans from Thailand to Turkey who use natural materials to create its inventory of exclusive Arhaus label products. Exotic, handmade merchandise separates Arhaus from competitors Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.

That focus on distinctive products from around the globe affects how those products are presented. “We really make our stores look incredibly dramatic where it is a real shopping experience to go through our stores,” says Arhaus chairman and CEO John Reed. Touches such as hand-painted murals on the walls, old-fashioned tin ceilings and mosaic inlays set the stage for Arhaus' version of “retail theater.” “Our vision is to have the most exciting home furnishings store in the country,” Reed says. Since it was founded in 1986, the company has grown to include 25 stores in nine states.

During the next five years, Arhaus plans to open three to five stores per year that range in size between 15,000 and 18,000 square feet. The retailer is targeting locations east of the Rockies that appeal to its upscale clientele. Lifestyle centers are of particular interest.

“Arhaus is a desirable tenant, especially in a more upscale type development where they can complement and enhance the mix of tenants such as Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn,” says Joe Boehm, a senior vice president of retail leasing at Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises Inc.

Arhaus opened a 12,000-square-foot store at Forest City's Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va., in September 2003. “They are definitely a cutting-edge type tenant,” agrees Randy Goodman, a principal with Cleveland-based Goodman Real Estate Services Group. Arhaus also opened an 18,235-square-foot store at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, Ohio last fall. The Legacy Village store uses innovative designs such as an Italian-style courtyard and Japanese dwelling as backdrops for its furniture displays. “They are a really high quality operator with an incredible presence,” Goodman says.