DOVER — With much fanfare and an expected huge impact on the local community, Airbase Carpet & Tile Mart opened its doors and floors at a new location last week.
Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware Economic Development Director Alan Levin attended a ribbon cutting, along with Dover High cheerleaders and the Caesar Rodney High pep band, joined by a host of purple and white clad store employees and management, among others.
The new 43,000-square-foot store with 133 sample floors is located where the former Metro Supermarket once operated, adjacent to Kohl’s, AC Moore, Joann Fabrics and Walgreens at the Centre at Dover at 257 N. DuPont Highway. The site has 10,000 more square feet than the previous location on South Little Creek Road.
The Delaware-based company said the new site recently was renovated to create a bright, open shopping environment.
State and local officials are excited about an expanded big box store staying in Dover, and filling a large vacant property in a location primed for success, according to Airbase ownership.
“As to Dover, the water is warm, come jump in,” Airbase president and third generation owner/operator Michael Longwill said during the opening Thursday.
“It’s a good place to do business, the area market is vibrant, and a well-trained work force is available.”
In the first month, Airbase, which is a 11-store chain in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina, will donate 1 percent of its sales to “It’s All Good in Delaware” a non-profit dedicated to helping community members in need. Donations can be made at all locations through July 4, and the company also will make a direct donation of its own.
Said Gov. Markell during remarks to the assembled audience at the opening, “We could not be more thrilled that a family that has been here for so many years, through thick and thin, is willing to invest again.”
The governor described the move as based on “vision, determination, persistence and confidence in Delaware’s future. ... We hope you are wildly successful here and we hope you keep coming home smelling of carpet (referencing earlier lighthearted comments made by Mr. Longwill) for a long, long time here.”
DEDO Director Levin said he’s known the Longwill family for more than 40 years, and believes in their business acumen.
“They thought big but acted small,” he said. “They never forgot their roots — people that work for them and their customers.”
Newly elected in a landslide, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said a team effort kept Airbase operations in the city, starting with the family, to municipal inspectors and planners among others, to the leadership of Gov. Markell and Director Levin.
Airbase CEO Richard Longwill, who took over for his father Sam, who started the company in 1967 said, “It’s unbelievable the way this story turned out. I have to credit my son ...”
Features, business hours
According to an Airbase news release the new, state of the art Flooring Superstore will feature:
•An expanded Oriental & Area Rug department with more shapes and sizes, from scatters and 10x14 mansion sizes, displayed on motorized hanging arms where the rug can easily be dropped to the floor for viewing.
•An enhanced hard surface department featuring hundreds of in-stock hardwoods, laminates, LVT, Ceramic Tile and Natural Stone floors displayed on pallets that can be taken home today, or installed right away.
•Delaware’s only Armstrong Elite Flooring Showroom, with large format sample display.
•Delaware’s only DalTile Gallery – The world’s largest manufacturer of tile.
•Delaware’s only Nubrisa Flooring Gallery – Exclusively selected for Quality, Fashion & Value
•Soft Surface Carpet Design Center - Featuring brands like Karastan, Masland, Nourison the latest carpet innovations from Dupont Sorona Ultra and Sorona Silk.
Business hours include:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tuesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 678-0970 or go online to www.carpetmart.com.