No other store in New York is as glamorous and fashion-forward as Bergdorf Goodman. And Bergdorf’s seventh floor features the ultimate high-style home store, a long-time favorite of designers. Now, as Bergdorfs unveils The Chairish Art Gallery, Anna Brockway, co-founder and president of Chairish, joins Bergdorf’s Andrew Mandell to talk about how this exclusive collaboration came about; how Bergdorf Goodman keeps its home floor fresh and exciting; and what these two retail powerhouses see ahead for home design and the future of shopping.
- It’s Magic: How Bergdorf Goodman Plans To Revolutionize Luxury Shopping via Forbes
- Bergdorf Goodman to Offer 300-plus Original Artworks From The Chairish Art Gallery via WWD
- As A Cultural Icon, New York City Needs Bergdorf Goodman via Forbes
Connect with Chairish and our guests on Instagram:
- Chairish: @chairishco
- Michael Boodro: @michaelboodro
- Anna Brockway: @annabrockway
- Andrew Mandell: @bergdorfs
READ AND LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE EPISODE:
Michael Boodro 0:00
This is a Chairish podcast and I’m your host Michael Boodro. There is no specialty store in New York, indeed probably none in the entire United States, that is as glamorous, provocative as sumptuous and as fashion forward as Bergdorf Goodman. It has become such an integral symbol of New York high style that it has been the focus of books, has been featured in numerous movies, and even served as a setting for a Barbra Streisand TV special. And its holiday windows are legendarily luxe, witty and over the top. On Bergdorf’s seventh floor is the ultimate high style home store, full of luxurious temptations, ranging from vintage hotel silvers, stunning ceramics and fine china to home fragrance, supersoft throws, stunning glassware by storied brands and innovative artisans, Luke’s paper goods and seasonal ornaments. Designers consider it the ideal spot to find that unexpected accessory that makes a room or to unearth the perfect gift for a client who has everything. Now as Bergdorf’s seventh floor opens a special gallery devoted to Chairish’s favorite artists, I’m pleased to be joined by Anna Brockway, the co-founder and president of Chairish and Andrew Mandell, the Vice President of Decorative Home and Jewelry at Bergdorf Goodman. Andrew began his career when he opened his own home and gift Store in Manhattan when he was only 23 and went on to have a stellar career in the luxury market, first for a decade at the late lamented New York branch of Takashimaya and then the Gilt Groupe before joining Bergdorf Goodman nearly 11 years ago. Anna and Andrew are here to discuss how the Bergdorf Chairish collaboration came about, how at a time when brick and mortars home stores are facing challenges, Bergdorfs keeps its home floor fresh and exciting, how they choose the many talents they feature, and what they both see ahead for the home design and retailing. Welcome back Anna.
Anna Brockway 2:18
Hi, Michael. Thanks for having me.
Michael Boodro 2:20
So glad you’re here. And hello, Andrew.
Andrew Mandell 2:23
Michael Boodro 2:24
So I want to find out how this collaboration between an internet seller and one of the storied brick and mortar, really the most special store in New York, how did this get started? Andrew, did you reach out to Anna? I know Anna, you are also a huge fan of Bergdorfs as am I.
Anna Brockway 2:40
Massive, massive fan.
Michael Boodro 2:43
So how did you get started? Who courted who?
Anna Brockway 2:49
Well this is embarrassing.
Andrew Mandell 2:51
Anna and I danced. We danced for quite a while.
Anna Brockway 2:55
Yes, we did.
Andrew Mandell 2:56
For a couple of years, maybe?
Anna Brockway 2:58
I don’t know. Yeah. Throughout the pandemic, too.
Andrew Mandell 3:01
Yes, yes. She had reached out to me about collaborating. And I was a little hesitant at first because I was like you’re a retailer. And we’re a retailer. And how do we do this? But after a few conversations and lunches, it made total sense.
Anna Brockway 3:17
Yeah. I mean, I have to credit Marisa Marcantonio, who really helped make the introduction. And as you said, I’m an enormous, like, kind of weird level Bergdorf fan to be honest. And Andrew will tell you it’s a little bit weird how much I love Bergdorfs. You said you think it’s the most sumptuous store in America. I think it is in the world. When I go in there, every time I’m just blown away by both the sophistication of the merchandise but also just the sharpness of the edit. And for me, it’s the most fun place to shop. So I’m obsessed. And anytime I’m in New York, I’m the last person out of the store driving all of the sales ladies crazy. So sorry! And I’ve always loved the seventh floor. And I mean, it’s just whenever I’m in New York, because I live in San Francisco most of the time, I mean, for me, it’s a pilgrimage that I have to go there and see what happens. So for me to meet Andrew, which is sort of the mastermind behind all of the selections that went into that space, was really, really exciting. And then hearing about his background at Takashimaya, which was another place that I adored along with many, many other people who are homesick for that, it was just really really fun. And so basically I terrorized him until he said yes! Finally, stop calling me and you can come here. So anyways, that’s the non sexy version of the story.
Michael Boodro 4:39
Listen, I agree with you about Bergdorfs. You know, especially once Barneys New York closed down, I said to a friend, if we ever lose Bergdorf, that’s the end of Manhattan for me. Manhattan no longer represents high style and quality and luxury and the life people dream of living. If Bergdorf goes, that’s the end of it. But Bergdsorfs is still thriving, and the seventh floor is thriving Andrew. I was there before Christmas, and I could barely move. And it was so fantastic that people do appreciate Bergdorfs in this special way. And I think it’s so interesting Anna that you wanted to start selling art there, be many of the artists that are represented on Chairish. So what was the thinking behind that?
Anna Brockway 5:22
Well Andrew, you might want to talk about it. But you all have a really great track record selling art. I mean, that was your experience.
Andrew Mandell 5:29
Yeah. Well, we were thinking about how to set up this exhibit. And we’ve been doing really well with art as a category. It’s relatively new for us, because we’re not an art gallery. And we’re not really a department store. So it’s like, I’ve been testing this. And it’s been doing really well. And we can sell fine art in this kind of department store setting. And this category presents our clients who have everything with something they don’t have. So that’s why I think it’s been doing well. And that’s why we decided to focus on that direction.
Anna Brockway 6:01
Yeah, and I would just add, art is a really important category on Chairish. And we do extremely well with it, as well. And it’s a place where we use both vintage pieces, but also work a ton with contemporary practicing artists who are going to be appearing at Bergdorf. So the idea really was just a nice alignment in terms of the focus. The other thing I think that’s really nice about art for both of us, is that for many people buying art is so darn intimidating. And you walk into these scary places where people aren’t that friendly, and no one will tell you what things cost. And I look at Bergdorfs as a store that has the most affluent shoppers in the world, really. And still people feel intimidated, you know about buying art, even those kinds of customers. And so what I think that they’ve done, that’s really great, and I think what Chairish has done that’s really aligned with that, is make buying art fun, easy, inspired. And definitely the pieces and artists that we’re going to be offering aren’t cheap and cheerful art, like this is an investment kind of art. I mean, it’s not like blue chip artists. This is expensive art. But we think that by presenting it in a way that feels fun, and welcoming, and chic, and really stylish, because we spend a lot of time on the merchandising, we have an opportunity to really blow up this category. So it’s fun.
Andrew Mandell 7:02
And it’s a good point, because it’s presented in a lot of our exhibits. We’re not just throwing paintings on a wall. It is everything we do and then working with Anna and her team, it brought it to another level. It’s environmental. And it’s experiential. And it is not intimidating to your point. It’s fascinating and easy and fun.
Michael Boodro 7:49
And one of the things I love about the seventh floor is you do have it set up as shops within shops, you know. So therefore, you know, I’m not interested in getting paper goods today. But I mean, I’m interested in this, I want to look at the glassware, I want to look at the bridal registry or whatever, but you have it all set up. It flows all together so you’re intrigued, but I can see how a gallery of the many artists that Chairish features and represents would be hugely enticing. And I can see that this is going to be, I think a big success for both. I know I want to ask you because you know, Chairish is and has been from its conception, an online store. And yet it seems like more and more Internet sellers and direct to consumer sellers are reaching out to having brick and mortar, and having a real physical outline, which I think with art also is very helpful, because you can see. But is this something you think Chairish might be doing more of?
Anna Brockway 8:43
Yeah, I mean, this is going to be our first time doing an in real life shopping experience for us. We’ve done a few smallish tests, but really quite restrained. This is definitely going to be our biggest foray into this space. And I think like a lot of traditionally all digital brands, what we appreciate, and frankly, always have, but we’re just sort of working on perfecting our online experience, has been that great brands – there’s very few great brands I can think of that don’t have a physical experience and a way to actually meet and talk to them. I come from a branding background and a marketing background and have spent a lot of time thinking about the Chairish brands, you know, we publish magazines, and this podcast and content and all kinds of things. And so for us, this is kind of, I think, the next frontier for how we start to bring the brand to life. I mean, one of the things that I love about what Andrew has created on the seventh floor and frankly I would say it’s true for a lot of Bergdorfs is this notion of an emporium, which you kind of hit on, which for me the really great retail shopping experiences are multi branded, and they kind of have this really great feeling of these little corners and little boutiques that you wander into and you kind of go into this special world and I love that about Bergdors seventh floor, that I can go into the Kentshire Estate jewelry area and it’s like this little fantastic fantasy around estate fine and costume jewelry. And the same thing when you go into the Kelly Wearstler section or you go into the John Salibello section. Like you’ve really done such an amazing job creating these little worlds. And that’s kind of how we think of Chairish honestly, as each of our sellers is their own brand that brings to us their little world, their shop, their point of view, their edit. And so I think in a funny way of all the places, to start to bring Chairish to life at retail, this was a very well aligned partnership from that perspective as well. One of the things we’ve endeavored to do that we can talk about a little bit, is the space that we got is actually kind of like a hallway. But it has little sections to it. And so each one of those we’re presenting as a boutique around a theme or a style idea and really merchandising the heck out of it, or, and more to kind of bring the idea to life, which I think is really what Andrew and his team have done so well in this space with everyone.
Michael Boodro 11:02
Yeah. It’s sad, though, that you’re finally getting into brick and mortar and have to start at the top. I mean, my condolences for that.
Anna Brockway 11:10
Like, well, it’s the best place. It’s downhill from here.
Michael Boodro 11:16
No, no, I don’t believe that. Bergdorfs won’t let that happen. Don’t worry, they may have to smack you around a bit Anna. No, but Andrew, it touches on something else that I wanted to talk to you about. And I mean, this also applies to Chairish as well. But how do you curate because one of the things that I love about Bergdorfs and this goes from all seven floors and the men’s store which I also spend way too much time and money in – because I’ve been to stores – like I was just in a couple stores in Paris and I felt like I was in a series of duty free shops. It was the brand, the brand, the brand. You knew what the brand was. If you know what you want, you go and Bergdorfs has that very personal curated feel like oh, I didn’t know about this. Oh, this would go with that. Oh, look at this. So how do you discover that? Like, I know, the seventh floor was the first place I became aware of John Derian. I think he had a shop downtown. But I didn’t shop there. How do you go about and find these people that you want to work with? And that you cultivate and bring along? I know you’ve had many special little showcases for designers as you do on the jewelry floor as well. So how does that happen? Do you have a team?
Andrew Mandell 12:21
Yeah, well, if I even take a step back, I am very fortunate that I work for a very large company. But I am given the freedom to be very entrepreneurial. So for the home floor specifically, I have a team of three buyers. There’s assistant buyers and there’s a whole merchant team just for this one store, for this floor and for our website. And we have the freedom to kind of really do different interesting things. And it’s a balance between a mix of large brands, you know, like Hermes and things like that. And then small artisans who are literally making things in their garage. So our job is to find the balance between the two. So we can cater to luxury customers because they still want branded merchandise in certain categories. And then they want to discover, and I mentioned earlier, our customer, it’s an affluent customer. They have everything. So to be able to, you know, like I’m going to Paris in a couple of weeks. To be able to go and source all these amazing artisans who’ve never been in the US is the most fun part of my job. Obviously working with the big brands is interesting as well. But just the sense of discovery. And we also have foreign buying offices in Italy and France and Germany and all over. So they’re sourcing for us as well. So when we go to Paris, I’m going to a trade show to look at big brands. And then we’re going to artist studios all over Paris. And I’ll do the same thing.
Anna Brockway 13:49
I am so sorry about your job. It sounds terrible.
Andrew Mandell 13:52
I have the worst job in the world.
Anna Brockway 13:54
You really do.
Andrew Mandell 13:57
A lot of it is just kind of organic like that. Like the hard thing is sometimes finding these artisans because they’re not showing at trade shows. It is a lot of, oh my friend does this or so and so I saw somewhere and they do this. It’s very organic. We’re very open to anything. You just never know. So it’s constantly – unlike fashion divisions, we’re always in market. There’s never a downtime.
Michael Boodro 14:20
So it’s not a seasonal thing. You know, the fall shows, resort collections.
Andrew Mandell 14:24
Except for Christmas, no.
Michael Boodro 14:26
Right. Right. And that Christmas, I’m sure it’s already started for next year. Right?
Andrew Mandell 14:30
It has. It starts earlier and earlier because the supply chain is real. It starts earlier and earlier and earlier and we’re going to a Christmas show in three weeks in Germany to do Christmas again.
Anna Brockway 14:43
Andrew, can I ask a question? Sorry, Michael. How do you deal with it, because we also deal with a lot of small makers. And one of the challenges is inventory and actually getting. There’s a lot of intention and excitement but getting from the intention and the excitement to actually showing up with the goods and delivering on time, as we all know if you know where the magic happens. So I was wondering, can you talk a little bit about how you’ve, I mean, you’ve talked about how you find these great people, but also how you vet them and make sure that it’s actually going to happen?
Andrew Mandell 15:15
That’s a good question. Because yes, there are sometimes people we see, maybe it’s even in jewelry. And I’m like, oh, this is great. But can they sell to Bergdorf Goodman, because we are still a big company. We have processes and procedures, and it’s complicated. So that also is a dance like we have these discussions after we fall in love with the product. Okay, can you do this? Sometimes we have to explain to them the fundamentals of retail, like pricing and shipping and imagery. Like they don’t know anything. So sometimes there are people we love, but they’re just not ready, or can’t figure it out. Then we say, okay, let’s stay in touch. We’ll help you develop this, you know. We have teams who can help you figure it out. But it can become a little bit of a longer process.
Michael Boodro 16:04
Yeah, scaling up is always hard for any company, I think, no matter what you do. I mean, Anna, I’m sure you felt this with Chairish right?
Anna Brockway 16:14
Oh, god. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s one of the hardest things is oftentimes, the most talented people are the least equipped to do the operation side. And so having that combination of talent, especially in a small business, which is who both of us work with, is hard. So I think we do a similar thing, which is, you know, try to make it as easy as possible for somebody to partner with us. And to kind of take all the heavy lifting and logistics, which in our case, much of it is shipping and payment and marketing off the table for them, so that they can focus on their craft. But it is a challenge, especially when you’re dealing with buyers with really high expectations.
Michael Boodro 16:55
So Andrew, what are you looking at now? I mean, you guys, you know, you did something with a House of Hackney, you know, I said, John Derian. You brought a lot of attention to a lot of artists and smaller companies. What do you think your customer is looking at or is it the Diana Vreeland thing where you have to give people what they don’t know they want? So how do you say ahead? What are you looking at now? Is there a period of design that’s of interest to you or medium? God knows we’ve been seeing a lot of ceramics and a lot of glass. What do you see coming down the market?
Andrew Mandell 17:29
Yeah. It’s an interesting question. Because like, when someone says, what are the trends? What are you looking for? And I’m always like, I don’t know, I don’t follow. We don’t follow trends. You know, we also as hopefully successful merchants, we have an innate sense of what we think would work. Again, not everything we buy is at homerun, but our track record is pretty good. It’s just that certain something and even when I have a new buyer working for me, it’s so hard to explain what that certain something is but you know, just by being with me and with the group and the other buyers, you kind of get it. And one of our challenges, being here in the heart of New York City is, sometimes you don’t know who you’re buying for. Because we have a global customer. We are not a store in St. Louis, where you know the people you’re buying for and you know what they like, we’re buying for everyone. We’re buying for New Yorkers, we’re buying for domestic tourists, we’re buying for foreign customers, and also the demographics of who’s coming in changes due to world events, economic factors, whatever. And it does make it an interesting, never boring blueprint because you don’t really know. So we don’t really follow trends. If I read in a magazine, the color blue was – we don’t. I mean, I don’t think we’re necessarily setting trends because we’re working in a microcosm of the shopping hierarchy. But it’s a luxury. It’s artisanal. It’s different. It’s all mediums. It’s everything. It’s ceramics, it’s glass, it’s metal, it’s textiles, it’s anything that we see and you kind of know when you see it. And then we’ll figure out how to merchandise it into our magic mix on the floor, which is also there’s like, where is it going to go? That’s the other issue.
Michael Boodro 19:20
Right. And I will say that sometimes the things that maybe don’t sell as well for you, the rest of us appreciate because your markdown racks have some real finds in them.
Anna Brockway 19:33
Find Michael. He’s going through the bins. Well, you know what, I think Andrew, one thing that is for me as a shopper in your store that connects the experience is just uniqueness. I think what you guys do is find those pieces, ideas, brands, makers, artists that just kind of knew and they’re delightful and extraordinary and lovely and that uniqueness I think is what makes the store and your section of it in particular, so magical to me. I guess I wanted to ask you, your team, so much of finding that is about having the right people looking. So how do you hire? And how do you think about finding really great diggers, so to speak, treasure hunters? And how do you screen for taste level and fit and all of that. I mean, it’s really interesting.
Andrew Mandell 20:24
I’m probably the worst interviewer in the world. But luckily, the track record has been pretty good. But it’s just a feeling you know. Obviously, they have to have a skill set, but it’s really a gut feeling. So much of everything I’m saying even like, our buying is gut, and instinctual, which is kind of like old school buying, which doesn’t really exist anymore in a modern world with technology and data. But that’s what makes Bergdorfs special because we’re one store. So it is this kind of just thing that you understand for lack. I’m not probably not explaining it right.
Michael Boodro 21:04
But I think you also have to have that bravery to go against the data, you know, and when Pantone is saying teal is the color of the year, and everybody’s showing teal, you have to know, I don’t want teal and I’m not everybody else. And you have to think of a different color palette and a different way. And I think that you have the freedom to do that. If you work for a big store with 75 branches around the state or whatever, that’s much more constraining. So I guess it’s like, you have to take advantage of your freedom and not screw it up.
Andrew Mandell 21:34
Right. Like I tell you, I have a lot of freedom. But my team does as well. I mean, I have 800 vendors. I’m not at every appointment. I can’t micromanage it. We are encouraged to be entrepreneurs. Obviously, we have, you know, financial goals and many corporate things to meet. But we are encouraged to be entrepreneurs, and I want them to be entrepreneurs. I come, as you mentioned, from an entrepreneurial background, and it fits into this environment very well, because we have an award at the end of the year, you know, risk taker of the year, that the buyer took a risk financially, whatever it was, and it paid off. We are encouraged to do that.
Michael Boodro 22:15
Yeah. And has it ever happened to you that there’s something that you put onto the floors, something that you love, you said this is something I want for myself and I know people are gonna love this and then you’re wrong?
Andrew Mandell 22:30
Michael Boodro 22:30
This is why I love your markdown rags.
Andrew Mandell 22:32
I wish I could say no, because I think even our markdowns are beautiful.
Michael Boodro 22:44
They are! It’s an emotional thing. You respond to things. I’m sure you’ve come across artisans who you just love, you know?
Andrew Mandell 22:51
Yeah. I don’t think we’re buying anything ugly. And like, yeah, just now looking at what we have marked down now, there’s some beautiful ceramics from an artist from Paris and they are gorgeous. For some reason, it just didn’t and I still don’t know what that reason is, but it just didn’t resonate. And that’s the guessing game part of it. You do your best, but you don’t know.
Michael Boodro 23:11
Yeah, because you can be ahead, too far ahead of the curve in a way.
Andrew Mandell 23:15
Sometimes yeah. Sometimes, you know, we do get a little too – there was a period in the few years ago, I was getting too out there. And I had to pull it back.
Michael Boodro 23:27
And the world will tell you when that happens. So Anna when you were thinking about the Chairish gallery, how did you approach it? Were there certain artists that you knew you wanted in there from the beginning? How did you go about editing that because you have so many wonderful artists on the Chairish site?
Anna Brockway 23:48
Yeah, we do. So the first thing we did is we thought about who we know our audience loves the most. Our audiences are actually remarkably aligned with Bergdorfs. We have a very similar shopper profile. So we started there with you know, who are so to speak our best sellers, that we know are big blockbusters. And then we sort of started to think about sort of what I was talking about before, about the way that we wanted to present to be the sort of immersive environments, which is very much the Bergdorf way, I think. And so we started to think about how to group those artists together into stories to create themes. So we have a whole story that’s really built around an artist named Ron Giusti, who sells incredibly well on the site, which is a very pop art kind of feeling room. We’re doing one that multiple artists will be represented in that we call the Fashion Editor’s Apartment. And so we sort of thought about New York and New York personalities and New York people. And so you know, obviously, Warhol and the pop art movement in New York, some of the really big female tastemakers, of which I count Linda Fargo, who’s the head of Bergdorfs but also Diana Vreeland and Diane Von Furstenberg and one of my favorite things is to get glimpses into people’s offices and spaces of those kinds of tastemakers. And so we imagined what that space might be like and filled it. Appropriately Bemelmans Bar is having a moment. Old New York and kind of classic nostalgic feeling for New York we thought would be appropriate. So we have a room dedicated to that. Bunny Mellon, who obviously had a lot of houses, but a big New York influence, we are doing a room based around what we’re calling a Winter Garden. And then I’m a huge Gloria Vanderbilt fan. So I’m really inspired by her use of Americana and quilts and gingham and all that fun kind of stage she went through, and the rooms and the visual world she created. So we’re going to do another one based around that. So that’s sort of how we did it. And we thought about women in New York personalities and kind of how that all fit together with our best performing artists and how we could create this essentially series of stories to unfold. So it’s been really, really fun.
Michael Boodro 26:07
And when is it opening? When is the gallery officially up?
Anna Brockway 26:11
So we have a soft opening, meaning you can come shop on January 19. And it’ll be up through April.
Michael Boodro 26:21
Fantastic. So, okay, Andrew, I’m gonna put you on the spot. What would you think would be the next – because I know this is going to be a big success. Would you think about collaborating with Chairish again? Or is there another?
Anna Brockway 26:33
Oh, my God, you’re putting him on the spot! That’s what I do!
Michael Boodro 26:40
Well, you have been trained by the best.
Andrew Mandell 26:43
You’re not putting me on the spot. Because these, you know, I’ve done probably over 100 of these exhibits in my years here. And they’re also besides being the center of the floor and giving us a voice, they’re good testing grounds for us. And we’ve brought on many of the partners that we’ve done these exhibits with, we brought on in a more permanent way. We did something with Kit Kemp, who owns the Firmdale hotels, The Whitby and The Crosby. And she’s a designer, and we did an exhibit with her and it was super successful. And then we gave her a little shop. And we’ve done something with Hunt Slonem and we’ve done two things with him. And that was super successful.
Michael Boodro 27:25
And he also sells on Chairish.
Andrew Mandell 27:29
Yeah. You know, we’re, like I said, we’re very nimble and flexible. And if something is great, we’ll figure it out. You know, that’s what we do.
Michael Boodro 27:38
So really, you’re kind of an explorer. You’re kind of out there on the edge, the Lewis and Clark of home design in a way and finding out what people haven’t seen before. I think that’s really exciting. And it’s like I said in my intro, I think you do such a service for designers as well. Because you edit you know. There’s so much beautiful stuff in the world and when you’re a busy designer, or even if you’re shopping for a gift for someone, you don’t have time to go to 50 stores. You go to Bergdorf and I think that that’s such a service that Bergdorf supplies. I mean, certainly the jewelry department is! You know it’s on the ground floor so I walk through all the time. I don’t even wear jewelry. And I’m riveted by the designers that you find and how beautiful things are and the intricacy of it all that. But I mean, you do the same thing on the home floor. And I mean, I think it’s so interesting that you reached out and Anna reached out to you first, but you responded to an online seller like Chairish and you know to realize that this is, because I do think that people no longer think about whether they bought something online or in person. I think they think of it as something they bought. And they wanted it and they bought it. And I think that that’s very smart.
Andrew Mandell 28:57
And that’s how in our business here, we’re on every channel and we try to serve our customers where they want, how they want, you know, whatever forms they want. If they want to look online, buy online, buy in store, whatever it is. That’s how every retailer has to live these days. And we’ve been doing this a long time. And we kind of have that down, just serving our customers however they want to shop.
Michael Boodro 29:18
No, it’s great.
Anna Brockway 29:20
Michael, can you ask Andrew about Takashimaya? I mean, to me that was such an amazing experience.
Michael Boodro 29:25
It was such a beautiful store.
Andrew Mandell 29:27
Can I blather about this for a minute because yeah, I started crying but it is, you know, I was so fortunate. Sad thing is the young kids here, they don’t know what it was or I could Google it or something. But it was such an amazing experience. And there was a woman who actually had my job here years ago, named Corky Tyler, and she was hired to start that store with the Japanese home company in Japan to start that store and she designed the whole thing and when I was 34, I was getting my first real job because I had had my own business as a kid. And I hadn’t really had a real job. And I was fortunate enough, I don’t remember how I found this job. But Corky hired me, and she didn’t quite know what to do with me, because I was too old to be an assistant buyer, but I really wasn’t corporate enough to be a buyer at the time. So she created a role for me. And a week later, we were in Paris at the home shows, and then it was September 11. So we bonded because we were stuck there for quite a time. And then it was just the right, not knowing it, it was the right place for me. The Japanese culture, I somehow melded with that very well. And also there, we had a lot of freedom. And I just got to do a little bit of everything. I moved up until I was like the GM of the store at the end. And it was a magical experience. Corky had the best taste of anyone I’ve ever met in my life. And hopefully, at that time I worked with her, I hopefully developed some of that, but I’ve never seen anything like it. And walking through Paris, we would buy vintage and she could just put something in the middle of – We’re all looking at our feet because we’re tired and cold and hungry. And I see that, I see that. It was unbelievable. That was the most beautiful store. Not that Bergdorfs isn’t beautiful, and I love being here. But that was a magical experience. I was the last one out when it closed.
Michael Boodro 31:28
Right. No, it was amazing as it actually made minimalism so seductive and sensual. And I you know, and I called it lamented. And I think it’s true. Wouldn’t you agree, Anna, that it really inspired a lot of people?
Anna Brockway 31:44
Yeah. I do think that’s what’s so amazing about your experience Andrew and kind of what you’ve been able to work on, which is there are these handful of various very special experiences at retail that people remember and in some cases are homesick for but just really that are changing. You know, transformational, if you get the chance to spend time in them. I mean, I think Takashimaya was clearly one for me early. Henri Bendel was like that. Same thing with Bergdorfs now. I felt that way about early Fred Segal in LA. There’s just a couple of these places that you go and your heart explodes. Because it’s so much fun. I mean, I am clearly an obsessive shopper. So maybe for other people, it is not quite as emotional. But for me, those are such important places. And I think it’s remarkable that you’ve been able to be part of, you know, two to probably five to six of them in the world. All right, Andrew, with your global globe trotting perspective and editorial eye, as you’re traveling around the world, what are the stores or places or experiences where you go and your heart explodes and you get really excited?
Andrew Mandell 32:52
Yeah, you know, part of our when we travel besides going to trade shows and market appointments, is to go around and look at stores. And Paris probably the most. And even though it’s a huge department store, Le Bon Marché is amazing. And they do, even though it’s a much more department store scale, but they do store takeover exhibits. And it’s incredible that they can execute that on that scale. So that to me is inspirational of how they do that, like Merci in Paris is a cool store. We always go there. I love going to Luisa Via Roma in Italy. And then there’s all these small, like in Florence, we meet with a lot of artisans, like there’s this great, tiny little store. I can’t remember where it is exactly. But it’s this third generation family business that they make these brass or pewter frames that we sell. They’re like works of art. And it’s the father who’s in his 80s and the son, who’s probably my age and nobody speaks English. And it’s the size of a closet. And I just love going there, and they would whip out all their new creations. And we go that, that, that. That’s amazing. And I’m drawing a blank, but there’s more of those little places that our partners in Europe take us to, and that part’s the most fun. Yeah, it is a very strange, microscopic career in retail to only really work for a single store specialty retailer on Fifth Avenue. Yeah, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s just been a very interesting ride.
Michael Boodro 34:28
And it’s like Anna was saying, merchandising. It’s not just about buying and putting it on the floor. It’s creating theater, you know, and enticing people.
Andrew Mandell 34:36
We have the most amazing visual team that you could certainly imagine. Because even you touched on the windows and David Hoey who is our window director and who is, you know, a magician. But then the visuals, like we have a whole team just for seven because it’s a lot and we’re constantly changing and there’s these exhibits every few months and besides that all the mini exhibits and just keeping all the new merch. Where are you going to put everything? We’re just buying, buying, buying, and then you’ve got to make it all look magical. And everything needs to have a place and a purpose and make sense from the experience of customers walking through. And we have the most amazing visual team. And they’re like, my I mean, we talk 10 times a day. They are my partners and we work in the store. So we’re down there every few minutes, practically, it seems, working with them. It’s fascinating.
Michael Boodro 35:32
What’s interesting to me is all those places that you mentioned Anna, of course, they’re businesses and they have corporate and processes and Andrew, the things you have to go through, but they had a very particular vision, almost like a personal vision. And I think that that’s what you managed to do. And Bergdorfs is, you know that you’re in good hands, that somebody is leading you through. And you know, they’re not going to smack you in the face. They’re going to entice you, seduce you, keep your eye delighted, surprise you, which is so important. You know, because we all know what’s out there. We don’t need to see another gift shop with the same scented soaps that everybody else has. And I think that is clearly a lot of work. But you’re out there and you’re open to things. And I think it’s so great that you are open to doing this collaboration with Chairish because that is going to be, I think, a huge benefit to both organizations. And that’s what it’s all about, is making the customer happy and being successful. And I think that it is such a great match, you and Anna.
Anna Brockway 36:36
It’s been a lot of fun. It really has been.
Michael Boodro 36:38
So congratulations to you both. So I want to thank my guests Andrew Mandell and Anna Brockway, from Bergdorfs and Chairish respectively. And I want to thank everyone for listening to the Chairish podcast.