Retail Profile: Bobby Berk Home, Atlanta
Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, August 9, 2012
NEW TO THE MIDTOWN ATLANTA RETAIL skyline is Bobby Berk Home, a 9,000-sq.-ft. presentation of modern/contemporary home furnishings, accessories and gifts. Located at 805 Peachtree St., the store's opening on Black Friday 2011 marked the launch of 30-year-old owner and namesake Bobby Berk's third - and largest - location to date.
The two-story Atlanta store features lots of windows, shiny concrete and wood floors, and alternating walls of walnut planks and "functional" chalkboard gray paint. Almost three times the size of Berk's New York and Miami stores, the space holds an expansion of his existing offerings, including the largest selection of Gus Modern furniture in North America, and adds new categories for the brand - bedding, baby/kids and pet products.
The Bobby Berk Home brand got its start in 2006 with an online launch of furniture, bedding, bath products and home accessories for the urban-sophisticate lifestyle. Berk, just 23 years old at the time, had already spent several years rising through the retail ranks at Restoration Hardware, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Portico Home + Spa.
Less than a year later, he opened his first brick-and-mortar store, in New York's Soho district. "Our mission was to fill a need in the market for a modern furniture company with a young, hip aesthetic at affordable prices without compromising quality or customer service," Berk said. His aesthetic caught on with the locals and, eventually, points beyond. As the recession took hold, Berk says he became even more committed to creating a look that set him apart from everyone else.
The second Bobby Berk Home store opened in Miami in 2010, in the 40th Street design district. A fourth store, in Los Angeles, is set to open in 2013.
Today, Berk's New York store occupies a spot on entertainment and leisure guide Time Out New York's Top Ten Big Home Stores list, an honor it shares with the likes of ABC Carpet & Home, Ikea, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Muji, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, CB2, Room & Board and Gothic Cabinet Craft. Berk lends his design talents to a variety of projects, from hosting events for HGTV and ICFF, to sourcing pieces for television sets and shows, to designing media lounges for high-profile gatherings.
Earlier this year, Berk was praised for his personal style by Miami Magazine, which named him one of its Top Men of Style. The magazine's editors said Berk "has the 99 percent's back when it comes to interior design," and credited him for filling a "gaping hole between mass-market and high design with his upscale-yet-approachable furniture showrooms around the country." On his fashion sense, Berk, a transplanted Midwesterner who now divides much of his time between New York and Miami, said living in New York has intensified his desire to be different and individual. "In a sea of millions of people, you really have to set yourself apart to make a statement."
The new store is 6,000-sq.-ft. larger than Berk's other stores. With the extra space, he's added beds and bedding, a baby/kids section, pet products and more furniture. Some of the store's signage is handscripted on grey chalkboard walls, as in this Gus Modern vignette (top right) and the display wall for the Urbio modular gardening system.
Describe your store: My store's atmosphere isn't one of pushy commission-driven salespeople. It's staffed by design-lovers who really do want our customers to have the best experience possible and to love where they live. The thing we hear the most from our customers is that they love how our stores feel like home, and we always take that into account when merchandising. We want our customers to feel at home when shopping and to sit down and chill with our staff without being overrun by masses of products and signage. We want our customers to not only love their furniture the day they buy it, but for the quality to last so they can still love it in 10 years.
How's business? In this economy, business is always a challenge, but we continue to be up every year. We feel lucky to have so many amazing customers who love what we do, and who have given us the chance to continue to expand. We'll open in Los Angeles next year, and are looking at Chicago, Dallas, Asia and South America.
Describe your average customer: Our customer for the most part is the single educated professional and the young family who want their home to be filled with quality modern furniture, but to also not break the bank. They've outgrown Ikea and are ready for furniture that lasts. They come to us because we understand them and who they are and always feel we have their home's best design interest in mind.
How do you reach your customer? We've been really lucky to have such good word-of-mouth referrals that have really driven our success. I am also a huge believer in social media and events that reach out to our fan base. In the past year, Pinterest has sent almost as much traffic as Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook combined.
What categories of home accents do you carry? Accent furniture, wall décor, pillows, bedding, throws, candles, lighting, area rugs, tabletop, outdoor/garden decor
About what percentage of your merchandise are home accents? 30%
Who are some of your key vendors? Gus Modern, Dwell Studio, Chandra, Kobo, Seletti, Areaware, Ferm Living, Pablo Designs, Art Thingys, 33 Stewart Avenue, Blissliving Home, Natural Curiosities, Emma Gardner, Barbara Cosgrove, Caravan Pacific, Thomas Paul, Not Neutral.
What's hot? Wall décor has been a big category for us this year, from mirrors to hooks, art to planters. We just picked up the My Urbio modular gardening system at ICFF and are the first retailer in the world to carry it - wall panels and magnetic vessels let you customize and rearrange your vertical urban garden.
Tradeshows/markets you shop? ICFF and NYIGF
Are you experimenting with any new technologies? We recently launched a new Mac-based POS system called Light Speed. We'll let you know in six months how we like it.
Address of store(s):
59 Crosby St., New York, N.Y. 10012
53 NE 40th St., Miami, Fla. 33137
805 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, Ga. 30308