Online home decor retailer Ballard Designs to open Houston store

Ballard Designs, a catalog and online retailer of furniture and home decor, will open a store in the Houston market in Rivers Oaks Shopping Center.

The Atlanta-based omnichannel retailer will take over the 10,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Gap Stores in February, the company announced.

Ballard Designs joins other design and furniture stores in Weingarten Realty Investors’ renovated River Oaks center as it continues its brick-and-mortar expansion. The Houston store will be the chain’s 16th since first opening stores 2007.

“We’ve been serving Houston designers and homeowners for 35 years through our catalog, so we already have a large following here,” Dominic Milanese, senior director of retail for Ballard Designs, said in an announcement.

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Ballard is targeting a soft opening in early 2021. Social distancing protocols will be in place.

“Shopping is one of the Top 10 things to do in Houston,” Milanese said. “And at Ballard, we have such a robust assortment, we expect people to love our upholstery and larger furniture pieces, but also to stop in for smaller accessories as well.”

The location on West Gray Street near Shepherd Drive is close to the affluent River Oaks and Montrose neighborhoods, a couple of miles west of downtown. Weingarten Realty is developing the 30-story Driscoll at River Oaks apartment tower in the center, with opening planned in mid 2021.

Ballard Designs also has stores in Fort Worth and Dallas. The company is part of Qurate Retail Group, which also includes QVC, HSN, Zulily, Frontgate, Garnett Hill, Grandin Road and Ryllace.

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Socially-distanced ‘Sip ‘n Stroll’ raises critical funds for the Ballard House


The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the Ballard House from offering free housing to patients seeking medical treatment in the area. It did, however, leave the nonprofit critically low on funding.

The Ballard House, a 501(c)(3) charity, has 40 living suites. Each suite is fully-furnished and features a private bath and kitchenette.

In an effort to raise funding for their mission of providing temporary housing free of charge for the individuals or caregivers seeking medical treatment in Katy, the Ballard House resumed its most popular fundraising event, the Katy Sip n’ Stroll at The ARK event center on Sept. 12.

Safety precautions abounded at the event as visitors sampled wines and bites from top wineries and local restaurants. The crowd was limited to 200 people. Each vendor wore masks and gloves. Visitors were asked to remain with their group and practice social distancing. Masks were required and could only be removed to eat or drink.

“Our biggest goal was to keep everyone safe,” said Kathy Alt, executive director of the Ballard House. “So we’ve taken every precaution, but it’s still a fun event.”

While funding fell short of the event’s typical $20,000 income, founding board member Chris Hiller was quick to note that any income from the event is beneficial to the charity. In addition to ticket sales, the Ballard House generated income from vendors, and the event featured a “wine pull” whereby guests could purchase a mystery bottle of wine for $10.

“This event is so important to us, because the Ballard House never shut down,” explained Alt. “We continued our mission throughout COVID. We have people there that are still pursuing their life-saving treatments, and without fundraising events, our funding is depleted.”

For the extra-cautious wine lover, the Ballard House also offered a “Virtual Sip n’ Stroll” on Sept. 11. Sommeliers live-streamed tastings for patrons who sipped along from the comfort of their homes.

While Alt hopes that fundraising events for the Ballard House will start to gain momentum as the community reopens, she emphasized that the organization is struggling to maintain operations as a result of financial setbacks from the pandemic.

“Donations are so important for us so we can continue to offer a

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