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Bloomingdale's Edits Home in New Store

In opening its 40th store last week, Bloomingdale's took a radically different approach to home, merging individual home departments into lifestyle statements and incorporating only the best of the best in merchandise.

The new store here, at 182,458 square feet, is dramatically smaller than a typical branch unit, which typically ranges from 230,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet.

As a result, said Joe Laneve, svp, gmm home, "The challenge was not that we weren't going to put home in the store, but that we can't be without home here since home's penetration to total store sales is higher here than in any other area in the country."

Bloomingdale's also has stores in nearby White Flint, Md., and Tyson's Corner, Va. "Chevy Chase is a great community and very upscale. It's the crème de la crème in apparel. And we want to create a new concept for home."

To accomplish this, "We picked the best of everything in designers' lines and top products across home." The overall design mood is contemporary and updated classic, Laneve said.

The 18,500-square-foot home area is devoid of departmental demarcations, instead boasting four corners dedicated to specific designers' products: Ralph Lauren, Barbara Barry, Thomas O'Brien, and Calvin Klein/contemporary, Laneve explained. Putting the department in perspective, Laneve said the total space for home here is about one third the size of a typical home floor in a branch without furniture. Or in another comparison, this total home presentation is equal to the size of the San Francisco flagship's home textiles department.

In another radical departure from the norm, all salespeople sell everything, from furniture to housewares. The training program began four weeks before the store opened.

In the home textiles mix, Laneve noted that there are 14 beds, where typically there are 40. "We have our four best towels — and a very edited-down selection."

In addition to the four designer brands in home textiles, also featured are Charisma, Natori, Donna Karan, L'Erba, and private label Hudson Park. Royal Sateen, Waterford, and Court of Versailles, all mainstays in larger stores, are not represented.

Two trend areas, now featuring the home division's national home fashion statement of black and white, will be changed every three months. In November, it will host holiday themes.

The center of the floor houses the gift gallery. There is a "tiny functional housewares section with the best of the best" and housewares to tabletop, as well as a "state-of-the-art" bridal registry, he added. Key furniture pieces are part of the presentation.

The home store shares the third floor with the men's department and has been designed to resemble a series of galleries with two chocolate arched entries flanked by two 25-foot-wide main aisles.

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