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Table Top & Home's luxury textiles suit jet-set lifestyles

Retail Editor 4 -- Home Textiles Today, July 16, 2012

Seattle - Be they ranch-style family homes, high-rise condominiums, personal yachts, or private jets and airplanes, Tabletop Top & Home Fine Living has become an interiors style source that can custom-outfit any luxury living space.

Owner Keva Dodd and her team, headed by store general manager John Tusher, serve a growing roster of upscale clients - especially since the retailer expanded its high-end linens offering over the past eight years.

Dodd explained to HTT that the store, which opened 25 years ago under different owners, was originally called Table Top Shop, reflecting its merchandise mix - table wear and table linens. Just under a decade ago, Dodd took ownership, added linens to the assortment and rechristened the store.

"We expanded its focus, adding bedding and bath linens, to better serve the needs of the greater Seattle area," she said.

Dodd, whose professional background spans 25 years working in textiles design, manufacturing and sales of fine linens, noticed the greater Seattle region was lacking a fine linen specialty store.
"I looked round to see if anyone wanted to work with me on the wholesale side of the business, and then decided to just do it myself. So I bought the store with my then-partner," she said.

Table Top & Home's first attempt at fine linens focused the assortment on traditional styles of bedding, bath and table linens primarily from Europe. But Dodd quickly realized it was not the best path for the business.

"The West Coast is new to the love of textiles and the love of European goods," Dodd observed. "If you look at Southeasterners, they are very rich in the understanding of fine linens and fine decorative home furnishings. I wanted to bring that same sensibility to the Seattle area, knowing there is an international clientele in this area who would understand."

With this new awareness, Dodd quickly changed her linens approach.

"We specialize in fine quality linens and put focus on heirloom-to-be quality-products at a broad range of prices," she said. "We started out a little bit more on the traditional side but very quickly learned we needed to address a more updated aesthetic, something more suitable to larger scale homes, more condominiums, a little more elegant modern lifestyle but not quite contemporary."

In the almost 4,000-square-foot store, which is evenly divided diagonally into two sections, one side is devoted to bedding, bath and other home textiles and the other is assigned to tabletop and table linens.

The linens side features five display beds, and on the table side are five dining tables - all of which are redressed at least monthly to offer shoppers fresh options and décor ideas within their vignettes.

And at the heart of the business and the merchandise mix are custom and tailored options for Table Top & Home's consumers.

"We provide our clients with special concierge needs," Tusher said. "Our staff is prepared to serve them with their all of their special needs."

Enter private yacht and plane owners, the likes of whom "we do a lot of business with," Tusher noted. "People who are looking to deck out their toys come to us. They are a very important niche business because they require special sizes and styles, and we know what needs to be considered."

Piped in Dodd, "Our valued vendors help us meet those needs. We have a high assortment of vendors who have been in business longer than we have and who are well equipped to serve these high-end customers. We are a high resource for people who need very specific things."

As a result, Table Top & Home works on many custom projects. "We work with a lot of interior designs, we have a lot of business-to-business relationships, and it is because we are able to solve a lot of problems for them," said Dodd.

Table Top & Home's linens account for 50% of both the mix and sales.

In bedding, the assortment includes "some really great vendors," including Matouk and SDH - "both of which have a great combination of stock as well as custom abilities and very high-quality, good-value products made with superior workmanship," Dodd noted.

The bath assortment includes towels from Habidecor Abyss, Matouk, and Anali.

Table Top & Home also provides a deeper offering of textiles than many specialty retailers, including bath coordinates, utility bedding, decorative pillows, throws, and area rugs.

The table linens line offers "a huge assortment of basics in any shape or size imaginable and in many, many colors," she continued. "We layer fashion on top of basics with European vendors, like Le Jacquard and Garnier Thiebaut" with fine tabletop pieces.

It is in this department where shoppers find the store's centerpiece - "a beautiful linens room that displays literally thousands of table linen choices," Dodd said.

Tablecloths, runners, placemats, napkins, and chargers surround the room on shelving units that are somewhat hidden behind hundreds of rungs of hanging napkins - all of them displayed in a color spectrum.

"It's a pretty dramatic room, and we believe there is no one perhaps in country with a room like it," she added.

In the middle of the room is a large, bare table where shoppers can lay out their options and try out color combinations.

"It's like a play room for design inspiration," said Tusher.

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