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Lillian August Store Highlights Dec Pillows

Converted Factory Retains Elements of Building's Original Use

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 6, 2004

A dedicated bed linens department as well as a full decorative fabric shop are important additions to the mix at the Lillian August store that opened here on Dec. 1.

The store, the largest in the seven-store specialty retailer's portfolio at 60,000 square feet, also highlights the softer side of home with an expanded selection of decorative pillows.

Lillian August stores, all in the southwest Connecticut area, typically are boutiques or smaller stores with the largest at about 30,000 square feet. One, in nearby Orange, is a Drexel Heritage licensed store.

This store, a converted factory that retains the feel of its original usage with cement floors and an unfinished open ceiling, mixes luxury bedding with contemporary, traditional reproduction and antique furniture and a plethora of accessories from antique to backyard finds.

The bed linens, in a space of about 1,500 square feet, are at the luxury level, said Skye Kirby, vice president, marketing, pointing to the roster that includes Lino Fino, Ercole, Shabby Chic, Libeco, Sferra, and Pine Cone Hill.

Decorative pillows are featured on the furniture and beds throughout the store as well as in their own shop, mostly from Chelsea. A decorative fabric boutique features fabrics under private label from Weathervane Hill.

Rugs are shown in several ways: hung from the wall and in stacks in one area, while rugs from Pine Cone Hill are rolled like decorative fabrics in a separate section and many are shown in the vignettes with the furniture settings.

A major statement of the store is the Dream Home, with an entry way, and a fully decorated bedroom, living room and dining room. The bedroom features Fino Lino bedding on Thomas O'Brien furniture for Hickory Chair. The home will be expanded, Kirby said, with a kitchen planned for the future.

The store boasts an interior design department of 14, significantly larger than the interior designer roster at the other stores, said Dan Weiss, president, and son of designer Lillian August. Leading to the fully equipped interior designer studio is an entry way with a fabric montage showing fashion-forward fabric colors and designs.

“This store is about design,” said Weiss. “We see incremental growth in the interior design business — it's our secret weapon. And fabrics have big potential. We expanded linens well beyond what we have had, and we'll see how it goes.” Weiss sees this store as having the potential for sales in the high teens.

In the two weeks of a soft opening, “We've had great traffic, consistent business, and we've done really well,” said Kirby.

Weiss and his brother John — chief operating officer of the retail chain — Kirby, two buyers and a general merchandise manager for the linens area make up the executive team. Bob Grayson, a former executive at apparel retailer Limited is a consultant with a 20 percent stake in the company.

As for designer Lillian August, whose furniture and decorative fabrics are in the store, “It's absolutely thrilling. We've built a big lifestyle business — a store designed for a wonderful experience.”

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