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Crate & Barrel goes home in SF

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Crate & Barrel unveiled the first of five home stores it will open in 2001, featuring a broader selection of home textiles than typically carried in its stores.

The new flagship store, opened last week in San Francisco's fashionable Union Square area, has a selling space of 27,000 square feet and a gross space of 42,000 square feet, more than triple the size of its old location on Grant Avenue, where it had been for 15 years.

With this location, Crate & Barrel now has 22 home stores nationwide and 96 stores total. The home store includes furniture, as well as the expanded textile line. For 2001, the company plans to open additional home stores in Sacramento and Walnut Creek, CA; Scottsdale, AZ; Houston, TX; and perhaps Arlington, VA.

Although the merchandise is similar to that carried by other Crate & Barrel stores, "every store is unique unto itself because of the store space allotted to it," founder and ceo Gordon Segal told Home Textiles Today.

The newest location, previously occupied by The Limited, had eight levels and a "chaotic" sense of flow, he said. The company gutted the building and constructed three levels connected by escalators and elevators. But some of the previous features were retained, such as the large, arched windows and curved ceilings, to give the store warmth.

The company took advantage of those features to simulate the feeling of an apartment, Segal said. Wall dividers set off the various "rooms," and dry-set stone walls add a residential feel. The airy, loft-like sense of the store is enhanced by its high ceilings and wood rotundas.

Almost 40 percent of the merchandise carried by the store is new, he added. Merchandise falls into two basic collections — spring and fall — and 40 percent of the product will change seasonally.

Thirteen dressed beds are found throughout the store, not including one bunk bed. The second and third levels house the majority of them, placed among furniture. The bedding inventory is kept off the floor, save one display featuring four styles of sheet sets and comforters. Several of the bedding patterns were produced by Marimekko, including one created by Segal's son Robert, a Marimekko designer. The patterns were manufactured by Revman and made in Mexico.

The bulk of the table linen selection is located on the second floor, cross-merchandised with glassware and dinnerware. Place mats and napkins constitute the majority of the table linen merchandise, separated by color palette on 36 shelves. The assortment includes stripes, solids, color blocking, border embellishments and embroidery. Several tablecloths are also available, along with napkin rings and vinyl place mats.

Smaller selections of window and bath are also located on this floor. Bath items in the debut assortment were primarily white, and included shower curtains such as a Waterware vinyl, and, under the Crate Basics label, cotton solids, a terry, a linen and a vinyl with color spots. A white cotton rug, a white waffle 32" x 56" drying towel, and stainless steel accessories were also in this area. Additional towel offerings coordinate back to bedding patterns.

Window consists of eight tab-top styles in solid linen, silk and sheers. Three shelves held stock and hardware.

Natural fiber rugs were merchandised throughout the store, rolled up in boxes, folded on shelves and stacked on the floor. The assortment included area rugs, bath rugs and door mats in fibers ranging from cotton to jute. Though most of the rug skus were solids, a few carried prints or featured borders.

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