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November, 06

"Now people expect tile to be in the house," says Murray.

Tile City has completed a massive expansion. The showroom is accessible from Morrow Lane.

The 51,000-square-foot terra cotta-colored building is a striking sight, and the same is the case inside. Pillars of ceramic tiles and stone slabs rise toward the ceiling, a mammoth display of Tile City's huge inventory brought in by shipping container loads and trucked out to stores in Yuba City and Redding.

At the easterly end of Morrow Lane, Tile City's showroom offers a look at what's available - everything from huge 24-by 48-inch squares to tiny glow-in-the-dark tiles perfect for a bathroom.

At a time when the California housing market has softened, Tile City's massive expansion may seem poorly timed, but President Robert "Mac" Murray says that's not the case.

"Now people expect tile to be in the house," said Murray, who opened the new store in July.

While the range of choice may be intimidating to a customer, the staff at Tile City is prepared to help make the process as easy as possible, Murray said. Not only does the staff help the customer decide on the right tile, but provides installation instruction as well.

"We'll even talk someone through an installation with tile from another store. Helping the customer makes sense," said Jim Oddy, who manages the showroom.

For years, Tile City was based in its original showroom at 359 E. Park Avenue, which is now operated as the company's discount tile location.

But the decision to build a new headquarters arose when it outgrew its warehouse on Otterson Drive. Either find another large warehouse or build its own was the choice.

"Very few stores stock this kind of inventory," said marketing director Greg Wheeler. "They're getting it from other places. That's why you have to wait."

Early on, Tile Town catered to do-it-yourselfers, but then expanded into the contractor market. Now it serves both.

But the showroom is the big pull, allowing consumers to visualize possibilities for their own rooms.

"We've had people spend five hours with us, and then we may see them several more times as the project progresses," said Oddy. "We really get to know people who come in."