People searching for the right home furnishings can find the best of all shopping worlds in one store that offers the convenience and diversity of a small mall but maintains the uncommon merchandise and character of a home decorating boutique.
Interiors Market (2240 Magazine St., 525-3330) has divided its large showroom space into areas where dozens of interior designers, retailers and artists can set up vignettes or mini showrooms of their offerings.
"It's a very unique idea," says Emily Garrett, who became manager of the Uptown store in January. "We have an array of home decorating items, furniture and accessories: fine antiques, architectural accents, many different works of different artists. Right now we have over 40 dealers and artists who offer an array of products."
Shoppers can ponder whether they prefer antiques or a birdhouse designed by architect A. Hays Town from the French House, more contemporary Indonesian teak creations from Indonique, old cypress doors made into artworks by Esom Art, hand-painted furniture from designer Jeannie McKeogh, home furnishings from Ingenuity, or Asian treasures from Silk Road Collections -- all under one roof.
"It provides customers with a unique shopping opportunity," Garrett says. "Instead of having one particular buyer who's purchasing for an entire store and specializes in one particular thing, we can offer a multitude of ideas about what taste is. There's something for everyone; it's an eclectic mix."
The first Interiors Market opened in Atlanta in 1992. Since then, the company successfully spread the concept with new stores in Birmingham, Jackson, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Both Louisiana locations are owned by Libby Corby, who likes to give the stores a definite local flavor, although there also are vendors such as Posh from New York.
"The New Orleans and Baton Rouge stores were bought separately (company-run)," Garrett says. "Libby Corby is the owner of both. That allows her to tailor what she has in these two stores to what specifically is in style or popular with customers.
"I like to keep it mostly local," Garrett says of her corps of vendors. "There are a great selection of talented artists, designers and retailers. Having locals [filling the booths at Interiors Market] also makes it easier for the dealers to keep up with their goods and when they need to stock."
A staff of four operates Interiors Market, providing a consistency of product knowledge and customer service. "We like to keep it small, so when we have repeat customers, they will get the personalized service they expect when they walk in the door." Some of the workers come to Interiors Market with a background in interior design, so imparting advice and helping customers with ideas is part of the job.
There will be even more for customers to enjoy in the future, Garrett says. Not only does the store have plans to expand and open up more spaces for additional displays, it soon will add refreshments. Local caterer Best of Susan plans to open a gourmet food-to-go business in the Magazine Street store.