The Blog

Orchard Supply Hardware, first big-box retailer to enter Florida since the recession, sets sights on Tampa

by Ashley Gurbal KritzerSenior Reporter for the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

A small-format, millennial-geared hardware supply store that’s recently entered the Florida market is looking for sites in the Tampa area.

Orchard Supply Hardware, which debuted in the Miami region in 2016 and recently opened a store in Orlando, has set its sights on Tampa as its next expansion market in the Sunshine State, according to retail real estate brokers.

California-based Orchard Supply is owned by Lowe’s Cos. Inc. (NYSE: LOW). It is planning nine stores in Florida this year, reports the Orlando Business

Journal, a sister news organization. Its search in the Tampa area has generated buzz in commercial real estate circles in recent weeks.

A spokeswoman for Orchard Supply declined comment.

The retailer hasn’t zeroed in on any sites in Tampa yet. It typically looks for spaces around 30,000 square feet on the fringes of up-and-coming urban neighborhoods, said Justin Greider, vice president with JLL Inc.’s retail brokerage division in Orlando.

Orchard Supply, Greider said, is exciting for Florida on several fronts. Its interest in the Sunshine State signals that both consumer confidence and the residential real estate market are back.

Its stores are less than a third the size of a typical Lowe’s — those are more than 100,000 square feet — and it is the first non-grocery, big-box retail user to enter the Florida market since the Great Recession, Greider said.

Many of Florida’s dark retail boxes — left behind from concepts like Linens ‘n Things, bookstores and office supply stores — have been absorbed by new grocers or redeveloped into spaces for multiple tenants. But Sports Authority closures left a number of vacant stores around the same size as Orchard Supply’s requirements, and the potential redevelopment of some department store sites could also present an opportunity for the hardware retailer.

The vacant Sports Authority store in Tampa’s Westshore business district, across Kennedy Boulevard from Westshore Plaza, is 37,500 square feet.

Unlike its much larger counterparts, Orchard Supply doesn’t cater to contractors.

Their focus is on a homeowner who’s doing small projects around the house,” Greider said.

In Greider’s mind, specialty stores like Orchard Supply represent one way brick-and-mortar retail can succeed, as customers choose smaller shops over what’s known in retail as a “category killer” like Walmart Stores Inc. and other big boxes with an extensive selection of many types of products.

I think it’ll be very specific concepts [that succeed],” Greider said. “The era of the category killer is over.