A furniture, appliance and electronics store that bills itself as catering to the "underserved and underbanked" is set to open by year's end in central Tucson.
Conn's Home Plus will move into the site formerly occupied by Circuit City on the southeast corner of Broadway and Craycroft Road, Chief Operating Officer Mike Poppe said.
He said the company caters to "the blue-collar, working class that doesn't have access to credit."
No-interest financing and rent-to-own options are available for customers to purchase mattresses, dining rooms, televisions or washing machines, Poppe said.
Customers with stellar credit will qualify for long-term, no-interest financing; those with hiccups in their credit can use in-house financing for up to 32 months with interest rates in the mid-20 percent range, Poppe said.
Shoppers who don't qualify for any type of financing can use the rent-to-own model, which allows them to take home a purchase under a rental agreement and keep it short-term or pay over time until they own it. Poppe said the monthly payments are usually higher than if an item was financed, but might be the only option for some buyers.
"We pride ourselves on having a financing option for everyone," he said.
The 120-year-old company was founded in Beaumont, Texas, and has 65 stores in the Southwest.
Mexican shoppers a draw
Conn's plans a second location in Tucson, but a spot has not been identified, Poppe said.
The arrival of Conn's and other national retailers into prominent spaces that have sat empty for years is a healthy sign for Tucson, said Martha Van Gelder, director of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona.
"There's nothing worse than driving by a strip center that's empty," she said.
The draw into the Tucson market for many retailers is the Mexican shopper.
"Retailers are benefiting from our cross-border shopping," Van Gelder said. And, any time a retailer can find a unique niche, such as Conn's financing packages, consumers will be intrigued.
"This company is smart if they are positioning themselves to offer a service that others may not," she said.
David Trahan, Conn's president of retail, said employees are trained to specialize in one of the three departments and will dress in different uniforms to reflect their expertise.
The company plans to hire up to 40 associates at the new store and offers specialty training for new employees.
"We will provide the training to our way of doing business," Trahan said, "not by having to break other bad habits."
Poppe said the plans are for Conn's to be open before the holiday season.
Go online to conns.com to view the store's merchandise, apply for a job or apply for in-store credit.
Job seekers can also call 1-888-614-5627.
Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4232.