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Male customers respond to the warm modernism of Arcanum

Arcanum is an antiques and interior design shop located in the heart of the National Historic Landmark District of Savannah, Ga., known for its masterful mix of antiques, fine art and new home furnishings and accessories. The shop, owned by Phillip Hunter and Sim Harvey, has evolved into an important design resource for the Low country area of both Georgia and South Carolina.

 Arcanum products

 Arcanum features unusual antiques, vintage finds and new products from a variety of resources; all of which tempt savvy men.

 Arcanum products

 Arcanum products

 Transitional aesthetics and products with texture are hot with Arcanum's male shoppers. Here they buy everything from cocktail table books and candles to gifts and furniture.

Arcanum, which means mysterious knowledge known only to the initiate, has been featured on many national magazines must-shop lists including Southern Accents, Elle Décor, Vanity Fair, Traditional Home, and Better Homes and Gardens. Started as an antiques shop 10 years ago, Arcanum now has a broad inventory of antique, vintage and new items that draw from Hunter's and Harvey's life-long affinity for neoclassical design and a fascination with mid-century forms. Their "warm modernism" has been also been applied to both residential and commercial projects locally as well as in Charleston, Atlanta, New York and Highlands, N.C.

The shop's core customers are 32- to 62-year-old college-educated consumers, many of whom have household incomes of $200,000 or above; there also is a fair amount of tourist trade.

Harvey said the unusual types of antique and vintage finds in the store always have drawn a male consumer, but the addition of new home furnishings and accessories enables Arcanum to better meet their needs.

"As our clients have more time to work on themselves both physically and emotionally, they want their homes to be reflective of them, so they are more hands-on and interested," Harvey said. "A lot of our clients are empty nesters or this is a second home for them, so they want to experiment a little more. Also, a lot of our clients with children are professionals who work long hours to be able to have more time off. When they are off or at home after work, they want a comfortable, stylish, luxe retreat."

Arcanum shoppers are likely to find the things they need for those second homes and luxe retreats by way of accessories and lighting from Global Views, Arteriors, Roost, Impulse, Emmissary, Napa Home, Poels, African Market, Robert Abbey, Currey & Company and Visual Comfort mixed in with furniture from Lee Industries, Hickory Chair, Oly, Janus et Cie, Julian Chichester, Bolier and J. Alexander. Gifts items like Match, Pablo Menkis Artisan Pillows, Slatkin candles, True candles, assorted cocktail table books, etc. round out the selection.

Average annual sales for the shop are about $500,000, with an average growth of 25% a year since they added new home furnishings and accessories. Harvey and Hunter reach their customers with print and TV ads for the store as well as some collective advertising with neighborhood businesses. In-store events like open houses happen once a quarter and typically are centered on a fine art show whose work is displayed in the room settings of the shop.

Harvey has found the male shopper who is engaged in how his home looks is typically well-educated and traveled and gravitates toward transitional, tailored looks. Though this particular consumer shops across all product categories, he's looking for sophistication and quality.

"When couples shop together, the male has very definite preferences and is hands on," Harvey said. "Since I am male, I feel I shop the way most men do. Design and materials are of the upmost importance. I never shop the trends and there is always a mix of old and new, classic and modern, provincial and refined."

Trends like transitional, warm earthy colors like terra cotta, olives, browns, bronzes and touches of blue appeal to the male shoppers at Arcanum; they're also looking for a mix of styles and periods, textures like mohair, suede, leather, dupione silks and heavy Belgian linens. Harvey said natural elements like wood, stone and metals are strong with these shoppers as well, but he's surprised to see details like contrast welting and silk braiding on pillows and lampshades drawing their eye.

Shoppers in this store are all about the experience, not just about making purchases, and they're using Arcanum for ideas and as a model for their own homes.

"We think about the music, lighting, flowers and what candle to burn in the shop," Harvey said. "Our in-shop events help us play that up even more."

Male shoppers, like their female counterparts, can be impatient and instant gratification is their mantra. When it comes to pricing, they vary between asking for a discount and buying what they want regardless of price; they're well informed, but still like a lot of guidance and input when making choices.

"We are a small lifestyle boutique and that is what we plan to stay. There are other stores slated, but they will use this model, which has served us well," Harvey said. "We do not, and will never, appeal to everyone. We cannot compete with the large-box retailer and our customer does not respond to the traditional furniture store model. I feel that this small and personal approach will help us with continued success and is one that men respond to well."

 Arcanum products

 Arcanum products

 Natural elements like the coral found on these decorative pillows, an overall trend right now, appeal also to male shoppers. They enjoy mixing vintage and new as well as styles and design periods.

 Aside from the luxe merchandise inside, Arcanum also offers a selection of containers and pottery for gifts and container gardening — regardless of the gardener's gender.


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