October 27, 2011

Sweet Home Chicago

I seem to have Chicago on the brain—possibly because I stayed up way past my bedtime the other night watching The Blues Brothers. In any case, when one of our incredibly chic friends in the Midwest tipped us off about Bedside Manor, an absolutely dreamy (pardon the pun) source for incredible items for the bedroom, the bath and the table in the Chicago area, I was intrigued. I wanted to find out more about the company, so enter Meg Carroll, who graciously filled me in on the business.

How did Bedside Manor get its start?
We've been in business since 1985. We were inspired by an American manufacturer of brass and iron beds (Brass Beds of Virginia) and all the beautiful ways to dress them. To begin we carried handmade Amish quilts along with German down comforters and French linens. As we grew and the market for European linens did too, we began to add more and more linens from Italy, Portugal, India, etc.

What do you carry?
We now offer over 50 different linen designers, including our own brand that is made exclusively for us in Italy. We attend trade shows here in the states including New York, Atlanta and Dallas. We have also traveled to France and Italy. We try to select merchandise that is of high quality, is beautiful and what we feel our customers are wanting. We have a very broad range and try to cover looks that
are traditional, contemporary as well as transitional. We watch for color trends in home fashion as well as emerging themes. We always want to try to find merchandise that is not carried by nearby merchants.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
Our aesthetic is not neccessarily slanted one particular way. We offer so many different looks! One thing we always try to convey is the feeling that we have a lot. Our stores have a minimum of six beds set up and are dressed to display and showcase our vast array of fine linens. So, therefore, the looks are constantly changing as new product comes in, or items sell from the displays. We always want to look fresh and exciting. Then to support what we are showing on the beds, we have swatches from all the different vendors that we represent. 

How has the Web affected your business?
We have had a Web presence for somewhere around 15 years and have been e-commerce for 10. We know that it is critical in today's market. It has had a very positive effect on our business as it is in many ways the first place we are introduced to a new client. If they see our ad, they will usually check us out online before coming in to shop. Another very important aspect is when someone is looking for a particular manufacturer—we need to let them know what we carry! And it is a terrific way for us to keep in touch with our clients and those who subscribe to our mailing list. We send out 1 to 2 emails a month announcing any special offers or events we are having in the stores. Its a very important tool for us.

Bedside Manor has four locations around the Chicago area. In a couple of weeks, November 15th, to be exact, designer John Robshaw will be meeting and greeting folks and speaking about his collections at Bedside Manor's Lincoln Park (2056 N. Halsted) store from 4:000 to 7:00 PM. It's a great chance to see the shop—and hear from one of today's leading designers.

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