It's New to Us By Jean Stratton

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FEATURING FURNITURE: "We wanted to expand, and we wanted a furniture store. Now we have created a store where furniture is the star." Nicholas Bewsey (left) and Nelson Zayas, owners of Blue Raccoon, are proud of their new establishment in New Hope. They are seated on the very popular "LA" sectional, featuring wicker weave-type fabric. Joining them is loyal bulldog buddy, "Dash.".
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Blue Raccoon Furniture Store Is Now in Union Square in New Hope

Long known for outstanding and unique home furnishings, accessories, and gifts, the award-winning Blue Raccoon in Lambertville now has a companion store in New Hope. Featuring the line of Mitchell Gold furniture, the store opened at 550 Union Square last November.

Cozy slip-covered sofas, handsome upholstered sectionals, and soft leather club chairs are just some of the items displayed in the spacious showroom. Comfort, ease, and quality are the hallmark of the store's selection.

"Why shouldn't the furniture you live with be as comfortable and stylish as the clothes you wear?" asks co-owner Nicholas Bewsey. "We are very excited about our new store. We care about what we sell – we care how it looks and feels in your home. Our furniture is direct, honest, and refreshing. It's well-made, and reasonably priced. The value is good, and I want to point out that everyone who works for us owns this furniture. They sell furniture that they live with.

"This store is the next step in our evolution," he continues. "It took four years; it was not an overnight decision. There's nothing like us in the area."

"People are focusing on the home today," points out co-owner Nelson Zayas, "Instead of traveling, they are using the money to take care of their house. They want to feel safe and be with friends and family. There's a return to simplicity, and the furniture reflects this. For example, the sectional has made a come-back. People want to sit together.

"Our philosophy is 'living easy,'" he adds. "The society is more informal. People are living in the kitchen – they put sofas in the kitchen today! We have struck a chord with people and today's life-style."

Perfect Fit

The Mitchell Gold line is a perfect fit with Blue Raccoon's furniture philosophy, note Mr. Bewsey and Mr. Zayas. It is credited with pioneering washable, slip-covered furniture, and also with the popularity of French leather club furniture. The Mitchell Gold line is exclusive to Blue Raccoon within a 100-mile radius.

"We want our customers to have a unique and pleasurable shopping experience which is why we hand-pick all of our retail partners," notes Mitchell Gold, founder and owner of the company. "We know you're in good hands at Blue Raccoon, where you will see some of the best sofas, sectionals, club chairs, recliners, and dining chairs we offer."

"The styling is really great," points out Mr. Zayas. "It's traditional to modern, and comfort is the key. It's pet-friendly and kid-friendly. It's easy to take care of and live in, and yet can be elegant."

Both the upholstered and slip-covered furniture are popular, report the owners. The "Gabriel" upholstered sofa is a best seller and available in many fabrics. Its comfortable seating, size, and styling are big attractions.

Other favorites are the "Alexa" slip-covered sofa and the line of "sofettes". Smaller than a loveseat, the sofette is available in four styles, and perfect for a foyer and smaller living room, notes Mr. Bewsey. "It's very appealing, and people also buy a pair of sofettes to face each other."

The cozy "chair and a half" is another big attraction at the store. This over-sized chair is offered in a variety of fabrics, and is a great place to relax.

Hot Seller

"You have room to curl up and spread out in it, or it is an intimate setting for two to sit together," says Mr. Zayas. "It's very comfortable."

Also very comfortable and very popular are the leather chairs, he adds. "The 'Andre' is a very hot seller and very handsome in rich brown distressed leather and other colors as well.

"We have a lot of leather," continues Mr. Bewsey. "It is handsome and integrates in any setting, and has evolved into one of our most popular sellers. The leather recliner is a big favorite, and we also have a bed with leather headboard and footboard.

Rugs, including a sizable selection of Orientals in a variety of colors, textures, and weaves, as well as lighting and accent pillows are also available at Blue Raccoon.

"We have a rug rack, and it's a good display for them," reports Mr. Zayas. "The rugs, which are very popular for us, are 6-feet by 9-feet, and range from $200 to $2000. We let customers take them home to try them out. You really need to see them in the home setting."

Lighting ranges from table and floor lamps to chandeliers, and these are offered in a variety of styles and price ranges. They are selling well and offer a nice complement to the furniture.

Design Choices

Customers arrive from all over the area, and while many have been patrons of the Lambertville Blue Raccoon, there are a lot of new visitors as well. They are intrigued by the spacious setting of the new store, reports Mr. Bewsey.

"One of our design choices has been to have no walls separating the areas," he explains. "The sight lines let you see the variety, size, and scope of the showroom. We have an open industrial ceiling and concrete floors, and Plexiglas panels that add a contemporary look, but with warmth. Our special plasma screen shows the latest designs we offer. And the key to the showroom is that we stock what you see. You can get most items immediately."

The showroom has a new look each season, adds Mr. Zayas, who handles the design work and enjoys that creative challenge. "I always look forward to the change of season because we'll have something new. I especially enjoy it when the store is busy, and people are connecting with what our vision is.

"Presentation is everything," he continues. "The way the store looks, smells, sounds – artfully constructed vignettes designed for maximum visual effect – staff who are friendly, attentive and informed. In other words, why not create a store that you'd love to shop in yourself?"

Customers certainly appreciate the individual attention at Blue Raccoon. As Mr. Bewsey points out, "We are set apart by the line we offer, the way we do business, and the personal attention we provide."

And Mr. Zayas adds: "Buying furniture can be a scary thing. It's a big investment, and people are looking for retailers who emphasize customer service and help with advice. This is important to the consumer."

Blue Raccoon also has a catalog and website:

It is located next to the New Hope/Ivyland Railroad, and is open Monday through Saturday 11 to 6, Sunday 12 to 5. 215-862-1200.

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