Retail Profile: Lillian August, Manhattan
Susan Dickenson -- Furniture Today, September 27, 2011
THE NEWEST LILLIAN AUGUST retail showroom and design center opened last November in a 109-year-old, 11-story building in Manhattan's Flatiron District. The 17,000-sq.-ft., two-level store fronts both 19th and 20th streets.
Skye Kirby Westcott, vice president of stores and marketing for Lillian August, said she's glad to see Ann Gish, a longtime vendor, move into the neighborhood, noting the Flatiron District's growing reputation as a home furnishings and design hub. Other nearby home stores include ABC Carpet & Home, Safavieh Home Furnishings (and its new Thom Filicia gallery), Environment, Design Within Reach and Restoration Hardware.
Overall, Westcott said Lillian August's business is about 60% interior design and 40% retail, with more than 2,000 vendors. August, joined in the business by sons Dan and John Weiss, opened her first store in 1987, in Westport, Conn. Today, the company's retail operations include a 100,000-sq.-ft. flagship store and 30,000-sq.-ft. outlet in Norwalk, Conn.; a design center in Greenwich, Conn.; a 15,000-sq.-ft. shop in H.D. Buttercup in Los Angeles; and the New York store, which provides interior design services along with an extensive product mix of furniture and accessories, as well as a few antiques.
On the wholesale side, Lillian August has designed licensed collections for Currey & Company and Hickory White, and has several in development, including a project with wall décor producer Soicher Marin.
Westcott, speaking by phone from New York late last month, said that although electrical power had been out for a few days, the new store escaped the wrath of Hurricane Irene and sustained no damage.
How would you describe the product mix in the new store? We have over 2,000 vendors and a very broad price-point range. Whether you're looking for a housewarming gift or decorating your apartment, house or second home, we can meet those needs. As for design services, right now we're working on everything from a couple of 35,000-sq.-ft. homes to small apartments.
What was the space like before renovations began? It was a big, empty shell. We really worked hard - refinishing the floors to get the color we loved, reworking the old outdated lighting, we put in the big staircase to connect the two floors, carpeted the lower level...
And what do you think of it so far? We love it here. We've got an amazing management company - they visit us every day to check in and see how things are going.
How has business been? Very good. Personally, I expected summer to be bad, but August was really strong. We participate in the Hampton Designer Showhouse (July 24 through Labor Day), which is really good for business since a lot of the showhouse visitors live in the city.
Have you hosted any big parties or special events in the new store yet? We hosted the Traditional Home launch party for the showhouse, an event for WithIt, our grand opening party back in February, and a fabric trunk show in the spring. And on Sept. 7, we're kicking off our "First Wednesdays" Designer Book Series with Annie Selke, who will be signing books from 6-8 p.m. in the store. This will be a monthly event - Alexis Hampton is our second designer-author in October.
Home furnishings vendors: Currey & Company, Barlow-Tyrie, Bausman, Bernhardt, Bolier & Co., Drexel Heritage, Althorp, Cisco, Environment, E. J. Victor, Jamie Young, Christopher Douglas, Four Hands, Hekman, Habersham, Henredon, French Heritage, Yorkshire House, Janus et Cie, Hooker, Palecek, JM Paquet, Kingsley-Bate, Hickory White, Pine Cone Hill, L'Orgine, Lorts, Hickory Chair, Maitland Smith, Old Hickory Tannery, Old Biscayne, Pearson, Verellen, Eddy West, Nichols & Stone, Theodore Alexander, Robin Bruce, Rowe, Sam Moore, Sarreid, Bradington Young, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Southcone, Sherrill, Sligh, Stanley, Summer Classics, Chelsea Textiles, Vanguard, Swaim, Shabby Chic, Brown Jordan, Bauer International (and many more!)
Address: 12 West 20th St., New York, N.Y.
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