Conn’s Hospitality Group is betting that events will return in the near future, and the former Merchant House store at 625 E. Monroe is currently being repurposed into an event venue of the same name, in anticipation of that.

“We’re hoping that things are going to open back up within the next year, and we want to be prepared for that,” said Lauren Stead, marketing and promotions director for Conn’s Hospitality Group. Noting that gatherings of up to 50 people are already permitted under current state guidelines, Stead said the plan is to have Merchant House – Urban Event Space open by May.

Merchant House sold a variety of home décor and furnishings, ranging from antique to contemporary, and Stead said the last of the merchandise is still being cleared out. “We had a big sale at the end of December, and a lot of the remaining items are being repurposed to other properties and used there,” she said.

Other than making room, the 4,300 square-foot space won’t require much in the way of renovations. Stead noted that the exposed brick and industrial ceiling creates an “antique, eclectic vibe” with an urban look.

“It’s an open plan concept, you can really have any type of event – a fundraiser, wedding reception, bridal shower,” she said. “We think there will be a demand for an urban industrial event space in the heart of downtown.”

Stead said that existing staff will be utilized for the repurposed Merchant House event rental space, including catering services through Conn’s Catering. Julie Downs with the Inn at 835, the other event rental space operated by Conn’s Hospitality Group, will be handling reservations.