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West Elm ready to sprout limbs

Joan Gunin -- Home Textiles Today, September 8, 2003

West Elm is preparing to go to the next level.

The Williams-Sonoma catalog featuring accessibly priced goods for younger apartment dwellers, which launched in summer 2003, will in coming weeks open its first bricks-and-mortar store and expand product offerings to its Web site.

The first test store will open in November near West Elm's offices here in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood. At 5,000 square feet, the store "will reflect the aesthetic of the catalog," said Lisa Versacio, svp, and its design is currently in progress.

In addition, the division is developing a separate catalog planned for next year that will focus on some of the assortment's basic merchandise, she added. The main catalog will remain unchanged.

Circulating approximately 15 million catalogs this year, all of the merchandise categories have expanded based on the success of its first year, Versacio said, and the latest book — dated Sept. 8 — "increased relative to our increased circulation and continues to exceed our expectations."

Textiles represents about one-third of the merchandise mix and constitutes West Elm's strongest category, along with furniture. For the fall, colors will be warm and rich, featuring coppers and charcoals, with shades of green from kiwi to basil with pumpkin accents, she added.

All catalog product will be available for purchase on West Elm's Web site beginning in October, the division's launch into e-commerce.

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