Howdy Folks, a quick introduction for some of our newer readers. Sometimes things I come across while researching don’t exactly fit into the purview of a normal HHR post. However, it’s still an interesting enough story, so I publish it under the Random Retail Series. Today we’re talking about how the launch of Garden Ridge accidentally created a competitor via a Broken Chain. Also shoutout to Aaron J. of Carbon-izer who recently reminded me of this story.
Broken Chain– (Noun) A chain that at some point has split its operations into independent operations. “The Gibson’s in Kerrville doesn’t operate in conjuction with the others, it’s a Broken Chain”
Garden Ridge Pottery was founded right here in Texas, in 1979. While most folks know the chain by its more modern name, At Home, the first location was in a suburb of San Antonio just off I-35 south of the actual town of Garden Ridge although technically within the city limits of nearby Schertz. This initial store wouldn’t resemble its later counterparts’ “dead mall” styling. Instead, opting to open the first location in a vacant warehouse. The company’s name was also initially a bit more verbose as “Garden Ridge Pottery and World Imports” reflecting the wide range of items that could be found in the store. While their bread and butter were home goods and pottery, they often also featured imported closeout goods. While initially using less than 1/4 of the warehouse space, by the mid-80s Garden Ridge had expanded to fill the entire building. In 1985 the second Garden Ridge location held its grand opening this new store would not be in Texas, but rather in Yukon, Oklahoma a suburb of Oklahoma City. Despite being in a purpose-built location, the building was nearly identical to the existing Garden Ridge. Matching its warehouse-style building, and billboard signage. One of the people involved in opening the new store was a gentleman by the name of John Rabon. Mr. Rabon had been based out of the New Braunsfels area since the 80s supplying kitchen and bath accessories and was brought on as a partner in the new operations. By 1986 he was the president of the company. Rabon would relocate from Texas to Oklahoma to take on the role of manager of this gigantic outlet.
In 1987 Rabon would be offered the chance to buy out Eric White, and become the sole owner of Garden Ridge’s Oklahoma location. There was, however, a catch. White still planned on expanding Garden Ridge, and Rabon would have to change the name of his store. Modifying it to Cimarron Pottery and World Imports, Rabon would continue to sell the same merchandise, in the otherwise identical building. After the breakaway of Garden Ridge Oklahoma, the new company would find quick success. Even adding on a Greenhouse for the sale of live plants, something the Texas chain did not feature. Building on its popularity, Cimarron Pottery would eventually add two more locations in the Oklahoma City area, bringing them to a total of 3 locations. The chain would open its first out-of-state branch store in Missouri in 1988. Located as a co-anchor in a Wal-Mart strip center, this store would also be immensely popular and well-remembered by locals. In 1991 the expansion would continue with the grand opening of the first Texas Cimarron Pottery location, located in an Arlington Outlet Mall. Two years later, the company would return to its roots renting actual warehouse space in Dallas.
A look inside the Oklahoma Store during its stint as Statuary World in the 2000s. Photos sourced from Foursquare
Despite their early success, Cimarron Pottery and World Imports was no match for the behemoth that Garden Ridge had become since the breakaway by its Oklahoma Cousin. While Rabon and White had been good business partners new ownership bought out the Garden Ridge after parting, and there was no longer a cordial relationship between the two companies. By the early 90s, Garden Ridge had already reentered Oklahoma, and by 1995 a new location was being planned just down the freeway from the original Garden Ridge #2. By 1994 Cimarron Pottery closed its Missouri Operations, and one of its Oklahoma stores. Leaving a total of four locations across Texas and Oklahoma, however in late 1995 Cimarron Pottery would enter into bankruptcy, and close its Texas locations. Only a few months later, the store would be down to one final location that announced its intent to close. The store would enter a liquidation sale, that would last for over a year, eventually prompting an investigation. Around 2002 or so, another store would finally open up named “Statuary World Patio and Fireside”. The new store would sell a very limited selection of statues and outdoor decor and furniture somewhat reminiscent of the old store they moved around 10 years later. The building would sit vacant for many years until finally being redeveloped as warehouse space.
A look inside Garden Ridge #1 in the late 2000s. Photos sourced from Foursquare