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Lucky Shops

Obviously I’m a girl who loves a good retail experience. I mean, just look at this roundup of shops both domestic and international. It’s a bit obsessive I know. I think that as much as I love the online world, walking into a beautifully arranged store can be a tad bit more satisfying than the virtual shopping experience. This sounds funny coming out of my mouth as 80% of everything I purchase now is online and I author a blog with most items I write about being solely available on the web. I must admit that I find online shopping more convenient though (for the most part) and usually I find fun perks like discounts or free shipping. I’m divided on this one. I love my retail shopping trips but online stores have a lot to offer a girl like me who isn’t based in the heart of a big city.

Ooga Booga in LA.

What about you? Do you shop online more than in-store or vice versa (or equally)? What are the benefits of each?

Have you noticed the City Guide section over on the Lucky magazine website? It’s brilliant. My shops section once lived in the right column of this blog and was called City Guide too. Now it’s called Shops and is located directly above this post (yellow tab). I love how Lucky editors hand pick stores from all over the world (mostly fashion and accessories – no home decor but still) and feature a boutique of the week complete with a photo of the owner.

I’ve dreamed of doing this for decor8 when it comes to home design and gift boutiques and I have store tours on the blog from time to time… It would be wonderful to somehow make this a regular feature here but I’m still trying to figure out how and if shops would participate. I’ve had store tours on decor8 since February 2006 but I’d like to step it up a notch and turn it into a more regular feature.

As a reader, are you interested in this?

Especially now since the economy here has taken a hit and people are shopping less frequently, I want to help these shops ride the tide through this period until things change. I’m seeing more and more little stores closing up shop, on the web and in local towns, and it saddens me because not only is the dream of one little store owner over, but what about all those who once had products there? While I’m not encouraging debt or shopping for the sake of buying, I am encouraging everyone to consider how they are spending their money and if quality can start to replace quantity a little more often… Buy one item that you really love for $50 from a small boutique instead of 5 items for $10 each that you merely like from a major retailer. Less stuff, more of what you love, that’s the way to go in this economy but really it’s a good rule of thumb to follow no matter how strong (or not) the local economy is. Wouldn’t you rather have a few good friends than ten that you can’t depend on? Same goes when you shop. And of course, inexpensive things can be of good quality, just because something expensive has a shocking price tag does not make it better. I have a table lamp that I spent $375 on. I also have one that I spent $100 on and another I won on eBay for $30. Do you know that the best of three lamps in terms of quality is the $30 one? The pricey version looks pretty but that’s about it, I’ve already had problems with the socket cup and the harp snapped off!

When it comes to stores, I’d love a photo of the owner, a mini interview, and of course photos of their boutique so we can see all of the goodness. Of course, they’d need to have a website. And I’d like to take it a layer deeper and get insider’s tips on display ideas, how items are sourced, and why the business was started in the first place.

Maeve Riley boutique in San Diego.

So I’m putting the idea out there to see if any store owners are reading and if so, would you like to be featured here on decor8? I can develop a special section dedicated to shop owners that would look somewhat like how I’ve organized Faves. Below each image I’d list the shop name and city.

If you are a shop owner and are interested in participating, please contact me using this form. Depending on how many submissions I get and of course, the quality of the images sent, I may try to run one at least once every few weeks. Image quality is the most important to me and of course, the store needs to carry items for the home and/or gifts (no kids, fashion, art galleries, jewelry). So if you’d like to share your shop, no matter where you are located in the word, click here and tell me more. Those who have brick and mortar locations who are also online are preferred but those without will still be considered.

Readers: To view past store tours featured on decor8 click here.

If you have a moment today please visit the Lucky City Guides for a wonderful fashion fix and don’t miss their Boutique of the Week. Great stuff over there.

(images from lucky magazine)

Posted in Shop Tours, shopping, small business on August 01, 2008
decor8 shop

Cabin Fever {Salem, MA}

I recently came across a new local shop called Cabin Fever and talked to owner Roberta O?Connor who sells mid-century modern furniture and accessories just north of Boston in her historic Salem, MA. She sent over a mini store tour for us since her website is still under construction (it currently only lists general information).

What makes Cabin Fever so unique? All of their vintage furniture is imported from Brazil! Now there’s a twist for ya! Why Brazil? O?Connor loves the Jacaranda Rosewood and Honey Caviuna woods and hand selects each piece for Cabin Fever. As a native of Brazil, her appreciation for rich, tropical wood runs deep and she thinks that it only enhances the beauty of mid-century lines and that because Americans are just starting to discover the wealth of Brazilian furniture and architecture from the 50?s and 60?s that Cabin Fever is the perfect place to showcase some of it.

Brazilian designers like Sergio Rodrigues, Giuseppe Scapinelli, Novo Rumo and Branco e Preto are all represented in the collection. “These designers are starting to gain renown in the United States, just as Eames, Saarinen and Jacobsen have represented mid-century modern design,? O?Connor says.

In addition to Brazilian finds, Cabin Fever also carries DwellStudio, Jonathan Adler, Perch, Thomaspaul, and Publique Living to name a few. Local artists will also have a chance to sell their wares as handmade prints and accessories will soon be offered.

Congratulations on your new store, Roberta! And Boston locals — Why not take a trip up to Salem this weekend?

(images from cabin fever)

Posted in Shop Tours, shopping, travel on July 11, 2008

Sanctuary {Austin}

I was so pleased when Hanna Curran from Sanctuary in Austin, Texas wrote to me over the weekend. Sanctuary is a new boutique dedicated to timeless, beautiful, and unique gifts — mostly collected from emerging designers from around the world. Hanna believes in the beauty of simplicity and that objects should be indulgent, functional and affordable.

One very encouraging point Hanna made was when she mentioned how many of her ideas for Sanctuary came from reading decor8. It’s always so exciting to hear from readers and to learn about the projects that you are working on that involve doing what you love. I receive so many emails from readers who have either set up shop, started their own blog, left a job that they hated to pursue their own business… All of these goals take guts to set and achieve but you are all making it happen on a constant basis! I can’t help but feel proud of each one of you and how we come together through blogs to help motivate one another to action.

All of the blogs out there in our great community help to contribute to the progress people are making as they work towards their dreams. And not all these dreams include shop ownership, some write in showing a chair they’ve reupholstered or an art wall they’ve created using prints discovered on their favorite blogs. It makes my day to read emails like this, that’s why I try to share what readers are doing from time to time, such as Hanna’s new shop in Austin. Congratulations Hanna on your gorgeous new store!

(images from sanctuary)

Posted in Shop Tours on July 07, 2008

My Atlanta

My friend and fellow blog pal Becky wants to take us away to her part of the world for a moment to show us around her hood in Atlanta, Georgia. She will return later this summer to blog about design reality television so stay tuned to read more from the Beckster in the near future. Are you to ready to meet her?

Hi, my name is Becky. A small number of you may know me from another blog I write called Hatch. I’d like to thank Holly for inviting me to contribute to decor8 from time to time. It’s a blog I’ve thoroughly enjoyed checking in on every day for a few years now! I used to badger Holly to host discussions after all the design TV shows, and because she will be leaving this summer for Germany (no American trash television over there), she’s going to let me lead future design TV show discussions here on decor8 with my personal observations. I think Top Design starts this summer so I’m looking forward to chatting with you all about the episodes.

First I thought I’d introduce myself by giving you a glimpse into my beloved neighborhood, Virginia-Highland. It is located in the City of Atlanta, and it’s named after the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue, which is my block. It’s full of charming Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian homes, as well as unique retail stores and restaurants. I can walk to go pick up anything I need, and this neighborhood is a perfect example of “old urbanism.” Old urbanism is what we had back at the turn of the century, and is what planners now call “new urbanism” when they emulate it today (see also “Seaside Florida” and “Smart Growth”).

The neighborhood is full of popular restaurants and shops. Unfortunately, it’s become such a popular destination that many of my favorites (I sorely miss Metropolitan Deluxe, 20th Century Antiques and the record store) have been forced out due to skyrocketing rents. I only hope that the Dean and Deluca-ing of Georgetown and the Abercrombie-ing of Harvard Square do not happen here. It’s getting to close to the point where the independents can’t afford to stay and only The Gap can afford to move in.

On the bright side of this extreme gentrification, in the past year or so a few independent home emporiums have moved in, and I’m so glad to have them. Having all this inspiration a skip away makes me feel extremely lucky, and I thought I’d share some of it with you.

On a typical morning, I’ll walk up to the Post Office to drop off eBay packages, stop by The San Francisco coffeehouse for my morning brew, and drool over the windows at Amour and Company shown above. This shop, owned by Jayme Leffler, is full of gorgeous furniture, perfectly curated accessories, and a selection of books I believe another favorite blogger of mine, The Peak of Chic, would have on her shelves. Pieces vary from a large branch sculpture to Jonathan Adler light fixtures, from Corbusier wooden models to a yellow Hollywood Regency desk. Every time I stop in I feel thoroughly inspired and return home determined to give my own home the rich but light feel of the shop.

Down the street we have another new neighbor, Urban Cottage. This shop owned by Jessica Silverstein, has moved from Buckhead Betty territory and taken over a house right in the middle of the Va-Hi intersection. They manufacture all of their own furniture and they will completely customize it for you.

What I love about Urban Cottage is the huge range of items and the way they are arranged in the different rooms of the house, including the bathroom! In a black and white Regency-style bedroom, there is a selection of clothing from soft T’s to a silvery sparkly dress. In another room they showcase local artists, like Carla Kaiser’s pinch pots and David Kallman’s color photography, as well as beaded necklaces from The Akola project (100% of the proceeds go to African women in need). On the lower level, there are intricately carved wood and iron antique Spanish doors available. This is definitely my favorite one-stop shop for all sorts of gifts – I can scoop up a unique gift, have it wrapped, and purchase the perfect letter press card to top it off in about 15 minutes flat.

Another recent addition is an outpost of South of Market. This store will custom upholster all kinds of furniture, stocks an array of beautiful throw pillows and mirrors, and most importantly it is chock full of unique French antiques that are mind-blowing. Unfortunately, most of them would blow my budget as well, but if I were going to pick one eye-popping piece to invest in and surround with my own flea market goodies and IKEA pieces, this is where I would go max out my credit card. The website is extensive, but nothing compares to the experience of visiting the store.

So decor8 readers, if you do happen to hit my ‘hood, all of this shopping is going to make you tired (I haven’t even mentioned the great clothing boutiques like Mitzi and Romano, Moondance, Honeybee’s and Dakota J.’s). It’s also going to make you hungry. Here are some of my favorite eateries, you just have to check out:

Noche – For the best silver margaritas on the block. Don’t have more than two though or you’ll wind up doing something you’ll regret (or not, depending on how cute he is). Definitely do not shop or attempt to try on clothes afterwards! The tapas are delish as well. If you like annoying huge crowds of drunk people in tube tops, stop by on Sunday afternoon for cheap Dos Equis and Sangrias. Wahoo!

Moe’s and Joe’s – An old original Atlanta beer bar (their license is for beer and wine only). Stop by for PBR on tap and a grilled cheese. I also recommend the chili fries and the sliders.

The Highland Tap
– Martinis and steaks done to perfection, in a cozy cellar. Upstairs, Fontaine’s has oysters, hush puppies, an extensive New Orleans-inspired menu and a bunch of pick up artists at the bar.

Murphy’s – Everything from light plates to amazing entrees. The staff KNOW their extensive wine list, and the desserts are to die for. A good place to go when one’s parents are in town and they are picking up the check.

Finally, the heart of the neighborhood, and perhaps the most convenient and eyesore ever, is El Chev, a.k.a the Chevron Station. Last May when out to dinner in Manhattan with the ladies from Dwell Studio, as I was describing my lack of domestic and culinary skills, Ashley from Texas said “Girl, tell me you did not just say you go grocery shopping at the Chevron station…HaHaHa…God, I miss Chevron stations!” What can I say, they stock a few oversized bottles of bad wine, lottery tickets, The New York Times and T.G.I. Friday’s frozen mozzarella sticks and loaded ‘tater skins. What more does any neighborhood need?

Thanks for having me everyone! – Becky

Posted in guest bloggers, Shop Tours, travel on May 30, 2008


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