Crate and Barrel opens in Canada
By 11 a.m., a mere hour after opening, shoppers were crowding the halls, baskets laden with contemporary-looking dishes, cookbooks and decorations as well as pillows, sheets and blankets in lush and trendy colours — including fabulous mossy greens and vibrant royal purples (which we all know I have a weakness for.)
As I wandered around the bottom floor, filled with kitchen supplies, office furniture, decor items and throw pillows, I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the number of other shoppers (it was a Thursday, so while crowds were expected, I figured some of those eager shoppers would need to work) and the sheer quantity and variety of products in my favourite shade of purple.
On my first trip through the lower level, I was so taken with the dinnerware and decor that I missed the healthy smattering of dining and living room tables and chairs dotting the floor, decked out in ways sure to impress guests for Thanksgiving or Halloween.
All hands were on deck at the banks of cash registers, and the staff was almost surprisingly cheerful and upbeat considering the crowds. Checkout time was speedy, and two very helpful salespeople were more than happy to answer my questions, help me with my basket and just welcome me to the store.
And, customers were just as happy to welcome them. It seemed like every time I turned a corner, someone was exclaiming happily, "I've been looking all over for this" or "Finally, something that will match my living room." People were happily stacking up goodies for their holiday tables, gifts and kid's dormrooms.
Shoppers were also busy at the contest kiosks, where you can enter to win a $500 gift certificate in monthly draws — and, by the looks of the baskets and people roaming around, no one would have any trouble spending it!
Moving upstairs in the 35,000 square-foot-store, I was greeted by even more shoppers testing out comfy looking sofas and chairs, gorgeous beds and checking out the rainbow of fabric samples, textures and colours to customize their choices.
A lot of the products are Crate and Barrel exclusives, which helps the store carve out its niche in an already crowded market, and another nice perk is that much of the furniture is made with eco-friendly concerns in mind, including sustainable sources of wood. In the States, the store is almost legendary for its gift registry, which offers registrants the chance to purchase the rest of their goodies after the event with a 10 per cent discount. Sadly, the registry won't be online until 2009.
I kept telling myself I was visiting solely for research purposes, but couldn't help but fall prey to a fabulous silver vase (it looks simply smashing on my bookcase), purple glass tealight holders (only $1.50 a pop!), silver picture frames (how else will I showcase those wedding photos?) and a few other odds and ends for my still-in-progress living room.
I did exercise some restraint, opting to take some time to think about the soft purple throw for my yet-unpurchased new sofa (though a microfibre fawn three-seater did catch my eye) and a lush, antique-looking purple velvet chair.
I wove my way out of the still crowded store more than an hour after I ventured in for what I promised my husband would be a "quick trip, just to poke around.”