NEW HAVEN – The new Jordan's Furniture has "IT" going on.
The chain, known for packaging entertainment alongside showrooms filled with living, dining and bedroom furnishings, opens its first Connecticut location in New Haven on Friday at 5 p.m. Housed in the former New Haven Register building at 40 Sargent Drive, just up the street from IKEA, the store features a 150,000-square-foot retail showroom.
But the 20,000-square-foot black box area housing the "IT Adventure Ropes Course," a computerized light and water display, sound system, pizza restaurant and ice cream shop is the main attraction.
"I call it 'shoppertainment,' " CEO Eliot Tatelman said. "It's not just a shopping, it's an experience. A destination."
The is the first Connecticut store for Jordan's, a subsidiary of billionaire Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway. Jordan's Furniture has stores in Reading, Natick and Avon, Mass., Nashua, N.H., and Warwick, R.I. Each location has its own amusement component, including IMAX theaters, laser water shows, holiday villages, a city made of jelly beans and restaurants.
Tatelman says the New Haven store, with what he calls"the world's largest indoor ropes course," is the company's most ambitious — and expensive — undertaking so far.
"I've done a lot of crazy things, but this is over the top," Tatelman said.
Customers will pay $10 to $30 to experience the ropes course, depending on the activities chosen. A Blaze Pizza shop and Richardson Farms counter featuring 50 flavors of ice cream are also in the area.
Customers can shop for furniture without doing the ropes course and visitors can walk into the entertainment area and watch folks on the ropes course or the light and water show or buy a pizza or ice cream. You only pay if you do the activities.
Although he declined to reveal the total cost of the project, Tatelman said that the water, light and sound show alone cost more than $2 million to install. The system incorporates 1,000 nozzles with 40,000 watts of sound and music, choreographed to a 45-foot-high water show. The light and sound effects were created by Clair Solutions.
The elaborate IT course includes two 60-foot-high ropes courses with four levels, zigzag swinging beams, crisscross angle rope ladders, cargo nets, bridges, plank-walking, a catwalk and a 48-foot-high free fall jump. The four 200-foot-long zip lines are 48 feet high and extend above the light and water show. The company says the course is for all ages and all abilities. A smaller ropes course, the "Little IT," is designed for children under 48 inches tall.
"It's a multimillion dollar experience," he said. "This area is its own profit center."
Tatelman says the space can be rented for birthday parties, charity events, corporate team-building and meetings. He estimates that more than a million and a half customers will pass through the store during the first year.
Berkshire Hathaway's Buffett was expected to attend a private opening event Thursday night.