Opened for about a year, this iFloor store in Seattle is one of four units currently in operation. The company's merchandising approach (inset) involves few stores fixtures.

Using a barebones retail concept that relies on the internet to drive consumers to its stores, said it is gearing up for an expansion that will increase its store count from four to 36 over the next 18 months. The founder and president of the six-year old Bellevue Wash.-based company, Steve Simonson, said the sharp increase in the number of brick and mortar units will enable iFloor to capitalize on the growing demand for hard surface flooring. As it stands the company now has two stores in the state of Washington as well as a unit in Delaware and a store in Hayward, Calif.

"We believe our niche is addressing the frustration gap that we see when people begin the process of shopping for new flooring," said Simonson, who operated his own flooring store for seven years before launching in 1999. "People often begin the process of shopping for flooring but they get frustrated and give up. We are able to provide them with the information resources to address their frustration."

While Simonson said the expansion plans have not been finalized, he noted that opening a unit is much simpler than launching a traditional floor covering showroom. Aside from a few banners and products stacked neatly on the floor, the stores have few amenities or fixtures. "Basically we just have to turn the key and we're open." said Simonson.