The Northwest's largest mattress retailer will open two stores in Medford in October.

The Northwest's largest mattress retailer will open two stores in Medford in October.

Kent, Wash.-based Sleep Country USA secured the former Blockbuster Video site at Biddle and East McAndrews roads and a spot in the new Northgate Centre Marketplace off Highway 238. The 21-year-old retailer operates 25 stores in Oregon and has more than 400 employees in 80 stores that stretch from Washington into Idaho.

"We're always looking for new growth opportunities, and Medford has been on our radar for some time now," said Terry Horsley, a Sleep Country vice president. "We look for prime real estate with good visibility and strong shopping hubs."

The Medford stores extend Sleep Country's southward reach beyond the Willamette Valley for the first time. Its most recent addition was in Beaverton, where the company opened its 16th Portland metropolitan area store last month.

The corner lot surrounded by the Bear Creek Center and not far from the Rogue Valley Mall is a juicy catch for the newcomer. During hot economic times it might have gone to a different type of tenant after a 21-year run with Blockbuster that ended in March.

"From a traffic standpoint, you're not going to find better traffic volume anywhere in the city," said Curt Burrill of Burrill Real Estate in Medford. "From a visibility perspective and with what they're selling, it's a great place to be. The important thing is how many eyeballs are going to see your space every day."

Given market conditions and the complexities of commercial tenant agreements, owner Robert MacLellan welcomed a tenant gearing up to throw open its doors in seven months.

"That's a pretty quick turnaround," Burrill said. "The economy plays pretty big into that, because landlords are trying to keep spaces leased so they are doing deals they may not have done four or five years ago."

Horsley indicated Sleep Country could expand its presence in Southern Oregon during 2013.

"We determine how many stores to open in a market based on population, shopping districts within the region and available real estate," he said.

"We are continuously opening new stores in markets where demand (exists.)"

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email