Vol. LXIV, No. 12
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
FUNCTIONAL AND FUN: Weve always had functional affordable gifts in home accents that evoke the Blue Raccoon look, with elements of country and modern, and a sense of fun. Nicholas Bewsey, co-owner of Blue Raccoon in Lambertville, stands near a colorful display of Giglee prints on canvas, featuring 35 different breeds of dogs.
Blue Raccoon is a special place. It is filled with an array of super home furnishings, home accents, gifts, and selected furniture, all presented in an appealing and engaging setting. Everything in the store is pleasing to the eye, and it is obvious that much care and attention have been given to every detail.
It is a fun place to browse, and few customers leave empty-handed.
And, importantly, after a few years in New Hope and some uncertainty about the stores future in the economic downturn, owners Nicholas Bewsey and Nelson Zayas have returned Blue Raccoon to its longtime location at 6 Coryell Street in Lambertville.
Customers couldnt be happier. It just gets better and better, says one enthusiastic shopper, who comes in regularly.
Our whole theme is back to basics, explains Mr. Bewsey. After the financial crisis were consumers too we have focused on functional items that enhance the home and make us feel good. We have returned to aesthetically beautiful, well-made products that are affordable. Thats the template we offer. We have a nice range of prices. And, now I think there has been an upturn, and consumers feel more confident.
There are so many choices: clocks to cookbooks to CDs to camphor wood cutting boards to cozy, slip-covered sofas! Options abound.
In addition to the living room, we focus on the kitchen, with a carefully-edited selection of cookbooks, including Canal House Cooking by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, former editors at Met Home and Saveur, points out Mr. Bewsey. There are also wonderful dish towels, and over-sized napkins, inspired by vintage French linens in natural burlap weave with a red stripe. They will look beautiful in every kitchen.
Also on display are very fun, somewhat quirky small ceramic bowls, each with a multi-purpose utensil: salsa scoop, pate spread, and olive spoon. Very colorful, they are offered in sets of three for $39.95.
In for spring are handsome ceramic stoneware platters from Italy and Portugal in assorted sizes and designs squares, ovals, and rectangles at different price points.
Also new for spring is a great selection of terra cotta mixing bowls in French country colors bold, yellow, red, and green, reports Mr. Bewsey. In addition, we have a large variety of rattan and sea grass baskets in all sizes, some suitable as containers for storage. Also, a storage ottoman that can double as a table.
We have very well-priced cutting boards made of camphor wood from Australia that have natural anti-bacteria qualities, he continues. And in the spirit of entertaining and dining at home, we have root bowls, naturally crafted from the root balls of Chinese fir trees. Its organic-looking wood, carved in platters, serving bowls, urns, and centerpieces.
A collection of Juicy glasses are in bright and cheerful designs and available in two sizes. A wonderful look for spring and summer.
Lighting, rugs, a variety of furniture, and a selection of accent pillows, including very popular 100 percent wool pillows with entertaining dog designs, are among the many other choices.
We have always offered all-natural fibers, including towels, linens, tablecloths, pillows, etc., says Mr. Bewsey.
Lovely, unscented spa candles produce a magical glow, and there is a super selection of triple-milled soap in a variety of delicious fragrances. One of the biggest-selling items recently has been the $5 bar of Botanic vegetable soap with shea and cocoa butter, and ocean minerals.
There is a wide range of prices at Blue Raccoon, including beautiful batik cotton shawls from Indonesia at $32, and charming sailboat votive holders in several pastel colors for $14.
CDs are another popular category. We have a great selection of jazz vocalists and instrumentals, says Mr. Bewsey, an expert on the subject, who writes a regular column on jazz.
In addition to its unique retail products, Blue Raccoon is known for its superb design service, which is the specialty of Nelson Zayas. We do a lot of design work, points out Mr. Bewsey. Nelson does many projects at peoples homes, and this is a big component of our business. In designing, we work with such nice people who have connected with our version of home furnishings, and who come in and want our help in making their home a wonderful haven.
Blue Raccoon clients are from all over the area and beyond, and there are many regulars who have been loyal customers from the stores beginning in 1993. Mr. Bewsey and Mr. Zayas work hard to continue to find intriguing items for their clients pleasure.
People are so appreciative and happy when they find something for their friends, and theyll come back, and tell us what a big hit it was. We try to find items that fit with our store and for our clients taste. says Mr. Bewsey. We have new things, and we have the same core groups of manufacturers and small producers from family-owned to large upholstery companies. The high quality furniture of Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams is a specialty for us. We want to stay fresh and engaging for our customers.
And we always try hard to provide a welcoming environment. Presentation is so important. The way the store looks, smells, sounds all of this is important. One of the things I think we do well here is to provide people with a little bit of inspiration!
Blue Raccoon offers gift certificates and complimentary signature gift wrapping. It is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, Wednesday 11 to 4, Sunday 12 to 5. (609) 397-5500. Website: blueraccoon.com.
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