Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first Crate & Barrel store at 1510 N. Wells St., Chicago, with a mere $12,000. Their idea was simple: sell European table goods, purchased directly from small manufacturers, at a reasonable price. When they opened in 1962, the Segals had one sales associate and personally oversaw all aspects of the business from buying products to stocking shelves.
Crate & Barrel took its name from the packing crate and barrels used to display clean-lined European-style glasses and tableware. In contrast with other housewares stores, Crate & Barrel displayed its entire stock in bright architectural settings that showed the products to their best advantage, an approach that revolutionized retail display.
Crate & Barrel issued its first catalog in 1967. In addition to the company’s black-and-white boxes and bags, the catalog has served as Crate & Barrel’s chief advertising tool and as a vehicle to expose customers across the country to the company’s formula.
So there’s today’s history lesson. And here’s a few of my favorite items from their latest catalog (they’ve obviously expanded a bit from the tableware days!):
Rochelle Sofa (comes in lots of great colors!), $2,499
Bourne Bar Cabinet, $999