Cost Less Carpet rolls out plans for new $5.5 million expansion
Randy Rupp and his family didn’t plan to get into the carpet business when they bought more than 200 bank-repossessed apartment units in the late 1980s.
The units were in poor condition and needed work from top to bottom, including floor coverings.
“Of the items needed, carpet was one of the largest expenses. So, we decided to fly to Georgia,” said Rupp, who explained the Southern state is where most of the world’s carpet is produced. “We purchased two truckloads of carpet from the mills. We got home and started using the carpet and found out it was pretty easy to sell to other apartment owners. So we decided to put up a building and started selling carpet and vinyl.”
They named the business Cost Less Carpet and opened the first store in Pasco in 1993. A year later, they opened a store in Boise, Idaho.
By 2015, they added five more stores in Washington—including Richland, which serves as the main retail store and corporate headquarters—as well as outlets in Bend and Hermiston, Oregon, and Columbia Falls, Montana.
Business has been good — even during the economic downturn in the early 2000s when Cost Less Carpet experienced double-digit growth, said Rupp, president of the company who for 23 years has overseen all aspects of company operations.
Across their markets, Rupp said business didn’t wane, which is why the company is building a new $5.5 million corporate office and distribution center adjacent to the current headquarters at 1925 Fowler St. in Richland.
More space needed
The new distribution center will be nearly 62,000 square feet and enable Cost Less Carpet to function more efficiently since it has outgrown its existing 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Pasco.
“The distribution center will house most of our product lines, as well as excess slab inventory. It will service all of our existing store and wholesale business,” said Rupp, adding that roughly 5,000 square feet of the new building will serve as the company’s corporate headquarters.
The Richland retail store is about 24,000 square feet and serves as the hub for transfers between stores. It’s also where all of the slab and carpet trucks unload.
Construction of the new distribution center and corporate office is underway with concrete poured in early December.
Cost Less Carpet is serving as the general contractor on the project, although it has teamed up with several local contractors to do portions of the work.
The building is to be complete by April 2017, and Rupp said there will be several new positions opening up, as well as some added warehouse staff and commercial drivers. All of the positions will be full time.
Removing the offices from the current Richland building after construction is complete will free up showroom space to highlight new and staple items in stock.
The first Cost Less Carpet location in Pasco began carrying carpet and vinyl. In the late 1990s, the company brought in ceramic tile containers, followed by hardwood and laminate. Glass and stone mosaics came next.
“Around 2005, we started bringing in natural stone containers from Turkey, as well as slabs from Brazil and India,” Rupp said. “Today we have full lines of hardwood, tile, laminate flooring, natural store, vinyl plank, and even exterior stone—besides carpet and vinyl.”
Cost Less Carpet buys product from all over the world. The United States, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Turkey and China are most common.
“We don’t buy from distributors like other flooring stores. We buy full containers or truckloads only, and by buying this way, we are able to offer our customers lower prices,” Rupp said. “We are able to do this because we remove at least one middleman, and sometimes two. We actually sell to other flooring stores in markets we don’t have physical locations.”
Customers benefit from Cost Less Carpet’s large inventory, he said, adding that buyers are able to walk away with product the same day without having to order anything. If they don’t have a product a customer needs, Rupp said they can get it. And while the business doesn’t sell warranties like some others, he said its huge volume of carpet mills can promptly handle claims.
“When you combine the highest quality products with the lowest prices, and then add great customer service, it’s a home run for our customers and us,” he said.
More stores planned
In addition to the growth in the Tri-City market, Cost Less Carpet is expanding in the north. The store just entered into a contract in the Spokane Valley on a 30,000-square-foot building on the corner of Sullivan Road and Sprague Avenue.
The owners also are looking at locations on the Interstate 5 corridor in Oregon and Washington, and said another store might open in Idaho.
“We want to be, and have been, the low-price leader,” said Rupp, who credits customers with their success. “We look forward to exceeding their expectations long into the future.”
For more information about Cost Less Carpet, including applying for future positions, product selection and photos, visit the store website at costlesscarpetrichland.com. Store hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
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