Crate & Barrel
|Founded||Chicago, Illinois, USA 1962|
|Headquarters||Northbrook, Illinois, USA|
|Number of locations||170 stores (2010)|
|Key people||Barbara Turf
|Products||housewares, furniture, and home accessories|
Crate & Barrel is a 170+ store American chain of retail stores, based in Northbrook, Illinois, specializing in housewares, furniture (indoor and out), and home accessories. Its corporate name is Euromarket Designs, Inc. The company is wholly owned by Otto GmbH.
Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first Crate and Barrel store on December 7, 1962, at age 23. The 1,700-square-foot (160 m2) space in part of an old elevator factory was located on Wells Street in the then-bohemian Old Town neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The inspiration was their honeymoon in Europe, where the Segals became interested in providing functional yet aesthetically pleasing products to young couples just starting out. Surprised to see that Europe had many beautiful and durable products at reasonable prices, they were inspired to start their own store in the United States.
The first store opened in response to a flourishing of world trade in home furnishings due to the early 1960s round of talks about the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Segals sought out small European companies that were not represented in America and negotiated direct purchases from these factories that could be sold to the consumer while avoiding a wholesaler's markup. To this day, a majority of Crate & Barrel's products are direct imports from Europe, though Thai, Mexican and Indian glass and textiles can also be found in their stores.
The Segals derived the company name by the materials that they originally used to display items in their Chicago store. The Segals were originally going to call their company "Barrel and Crate", but a friend suggested that they reverse the order of the words. They turned over the crates and barrels that the merchandise came in, let the wood excelsior spew out, and stacked up the china and glass. This helped emphasize their strongest selling point, that their products were direct imports.
In 1966, Segal and the designer Lon Habkirk visited the Design Research store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which had an "enormous influence" on their retailing approach. Habkirk later remarked: "Eventually we took the whole idea and translated it into a reproducible formula."
In 1968, the Segals opened their second store in the Plaza del Lago shopping center in suburban Wilmette, Illinois, and third in Oak Brook, Illinois in 1971. Its first store outside the Chicago area opened in Boston in 1977. In 1979, it opened its second Cambridge, Massachusetts store in the building designed for the recently-closed Design Research, which they had so admired.
By 1985, the chain had grown to 17 stores, and has continued to grow. In March 1995, it opened its first New York location (its 59th location), in Manhattan. After selling a majority stake to German mail order company the Otto Group in 1998, the company had financing to increase its rate of expansion. By 2002, it had grown to approximately 100 locations, and over 135 locations by late 2004.
Today there are over 170 stores in the United States.
In September 2008, Crate and Barrel opened its first location outside the United States, at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Canada. A new two story 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) building, similar to other newly opened stores in the U.S., was constructed. A second Canadian store, in Calgary, opened in October 2009. A third Canadian store opened in Mississauga, Ontario, on October 28, 2010, at Square One Shopping Centre. Further stores opened in 2011 in Edmonton, Alberta at Southgate Centre, another one in Spring 2012 at Carrefour Laval Shopping Centre in Laval, Quebec and another in Oakridge Centre mall in Vancouver, British Columbia in early 2013. Future international expansion in Canada and possibly other countries is also reportedly planned.
In 2013 Crate and Barrel opened its first store in Mexico City.
Barbara Turf, first hired in 1968, succeeded Gordon Segal as CEO of the company in May 2008. In November 2008, it was reported that sales for the prior year for the chain were $1.3 billion. Turf retired in 2012. Sascha Bopp was named to replace her. Due to lackluster performance during the 2013 Holiday season, poor operational decisions regarding policies and staffing, and growing disenchantment from the employees, Bopp was removed from his position and termimated from the company in July 2014. While a replacement is being sought, Otto Group has asked founder Gordon Segal to return as a consultant to bring back the original company culture and values in an attempt to increase sales and employee productivity and morale.
Crate and Barrel offers a variety of "upmarket" housewares, furniture, and related merchandise. These are displayed in the "vignette" style, where items are grouped together as they might appear in the home. The company was an innovator of this style, which has since become more widely used.
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- Nicole Maestri (November 6, 2007). "Crate and Barrel's CB2 chain takes Manhattan". Reuters. Retrieved February 5, 2010.("Crate and Barrel opens its first New York-based CB2 store on Tuesday. It marks the third CB2 store, and is the retailer's first CB2 store outside of Chicago.")