Vol. LXII, No. 45
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
HOME AGAIN: The intimacy of Lambertville is part of its charm, and because our shop is intimate, people feel at home. All our customers have been so welcoming. We feel were a part of the Lambertville community. Nick Bewsey (standing) and Nelson Zayas, owners of Blue Raccoon Home Gifts Design, are happy to be back in their Lambertville location.
Blue Raccoon has come home to Lambertville. After a four-year stay in New Hope, the charming home, gifts, and design shop has returned to its former location at 6 Coryell Street.
Were a better fit here, explains Nicholas Bewsey, co-owner with Nelson Zayas. We have always liked the community of shops here, and the Lambertville residents really support their merchants.
In addition to returning to Lambertville, Blue Raccoon has also refocused its merchandise. The New Hope store heavily featured furniture, and while that is still available, there is an extensive selection of gifts and home accessories.
This is the proven and familiar, points out Mr. Bewsey, who oversees the public relations and financial side of the store. Our theme for this year is that a home is more than just about furniture. Its all the things you surround yourself with. People collect when they travel; friends bring gifts.
We do a lot of design now too, he continues. Design is Nelsons specialty, and he opened Skylark Studio, which is a growing part of the business. Weve had projects in Philadelphia and at the shore, and many of them come from long-time customers. We have established a trust and connection with the community and beyond.
Store design and display also fall under the domain of Mr. Zayas, and everything in the store is so pleasing to the eye, it is obvious that much care and attention have been given to every detail. The walls of the shop have been painted different colors, chosen by Mr. Zayas, and on each wall is a brief explanation of his choice. Included are yellow (Chilled Lemonade), Lily Lavender, Marine White, and green (Limelight).
Nelson and I have always been passionate not only about what we sell but in helping people with their design concerns, notes Mr. Bewsey. The way we have presented the store reflects a look that is appealing, and Nelson is very good spatially and with color.
With their superb taste and the ability to present the merchandise so engagingly, the owners have focused on a selection that is both practical and imaginative. Nelson and I spend a great deal of time choosing the items, points out Mr. Bewsey. We travel all over the country, and we do our best to offer things not found everywhere else. We have a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces in all areas. Its eclectic. People want something unique, whether its furniture or accessories. They dont want what everyone else has. They want it to reflect their own style. Eclectic is important; the mix is important.
Eclectic certainly describes the selection at Blue Raccoon. Everything from lamps and picture frames to decorative bowls, accent pillows and fabric samples to furniture and artwork is on display. Background music includes jazz instrumentals and vocals, and CDs, by popular demand, are available for sale.
Furniture at the shop includes one-of-a-kind pieces, such as American primitive, European, and Asian antiques. Also, upholstery from American companies including Vanguard, Mitchell Gold, and Bob Williams is featured, and two additional lines are smaller private label companies from North Carolina, says Mr. Bewsey. These carry the Blue Raccoon label, and can be custom-made.
We also have a lot of sectionals and small-scale furniture throughout the shop, he continues. A great new piece is a little ottoman on wheels for $249. The top flips over to become a tray. It comes in six colors, and its a great way to provide extra seating in a small space.
Also, the major upholstery companies, and many accessories too, are utilizing as many green production methods as possible. There is a great deal of recycling.
A variety of lamps is on display, including traditional and modern lighting as well as unusual styles, such as table lamps with art glass shades, handcrafted in Vermont.
We have always carried everything from tea towels to cookbooks (We have a great selection of cookbooks) to special wine glasses, says Mr Bewsey. Also available are Match Italian pewter, which we have have offered for 10 years, and wonderful hand-blown bowls from Tuscany.
In addition, there are graceful footed shell dishes (made of real shell), a lovely gift at $36. Beautiful decorative iridescent glass bowls are remarkable for their unusually interesting design work. Chinese astrological figures, originally used to burn incense, include 12 different signs, such as the Year of the Pig, Rat, Ram, etc., and have been very popular at $79.
Crewel stitch pillows boast an eye-catching colorful polka dot design, are made in a small village in India, and are exclusive to Blue Raccoon.
Bugs and Beetles
Also exclusive to the store are the originals and prints of roosters and chickens of Eric Faustnacht and the work of artist and Bucks County resident William Sloan, who is proficient in oil and photography.
We also have the artwork of Christopher Manley, who specializes in artistic presentations of real bugs and beetles, notes Mr. Bewsey. They are signed, one-of-a-kind pieces, and very collectible.
Super soaps (including long-lasting triple-milled) from $6, small leather picture frames at $5.95, paper whites (a Blue Raccoon specialty) at $1.50 are all examples of the wide range of prices at the store. We try very hard to keep things affordable, points out Mr. Bewsey. For example, we have a great new furniture polish, the Original Bees Wax furniture polish, which is lightly scented, leaves no film or fingerprints, and is good on wood or kitchen countertops, available for $12.95. We also offer complimentary gift wrap, and gift certificates.
On Wednesday, November 19, the store will hold its annual holiday open house at 5 p.m. Its the first opportunity for people to see our unique Christmas ornaments, he explains. There will be refreshments from the Hamilton Grill, and also for our customers who come to the Open house, Hamilton Grill will offer a special prix-fixe dinner.
You know, he adds, we have found over the years that people like to come in our store, linger, and soak it up. Some come in every week to see whats new. Now, we are looking forward to next year. We are always planning six months ahead.
We have been in business since 1993, and during that time, we have enjoyed and continue to enjoy being able to help people and please them with our selection and service. The challenge is offering the perfect combination of style, comfort, and value. Thats what you have to do as a serious and successful retailer.
Blue Raccoon is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday until 7; Sunday until 5. (609) 397-5500. Website: www.blueraccoon.com.
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