A visit to reseller and retailer Elsie Green’s new store in Sebastopol’s Barlow is a master class in housewares curation and home design.
The new location, the first addition to the brand’s successful Concord store, offers what one might expect from a purveyor of French vintage finds, but Elsie Green takes everything a beautiful step further.
Why get comfy in the proven chicness of all-white 30-foot walls of the Barlow’s retail spaces, when you can coat just one wall in a deep teal and witness customers’ dropping of jaws at entering?
And why dismiss ticking as an outdated, overdone attempt at nostalgia, when you can cover a vintage couch in it, put a modern raw-edge wood end table beside it and make customers feel they suddenly have to have ticking?
Elsie Green has all that plus glimmering oversized copper pots, silverware, earthenware and more – all vintage. Add in stemless cylindrical wine glasses, new, from Morocco and then ask yourself, “How did Elsie do that?”
According to marketing director Kelsey Schmidt, Elsie Green’s team travels to France quarterly and ships several containers of coveted flea market wares back to the Bay Area. The vintage treasures then find a new home in Elsie Green’s Concord and Sebastopol stores. Equipped with a curator’s eye for unique finds, Elsie Green founder Laurie Furber, nee Cain, (LC, get it?), is the mastermind behind the operation, able to identify the needle in every haystack (or warehouse).
Furber’s talent is backed by an education in art history and years as an executive for a major home design retailer. Along with husband, JP, a veteran of retail merchandising, Furber identified a “dead space in the market for sustainable design and vintage goods,” said Schmidt.
Furber was set to share her idea with her then employer, but made the decision to leave her post and branch out on her own. Two stores and twenty-five thousand Instagram followers later, Elsie Green is carving out her own little corner in the design world.
“What’s more green than not buying something new?” said Schmidt of the store which has a stock she estimates is ninety percent vintage.
From the call to be green, Elsie Green solves a design puzzle that re-imagines those vintage items in a new look. Brass candlesticks, a mainstay of many antique stores, are reborn at Elsie Green assembled in a collection against a smoky brown wall.
In this way, Elsie Green manages to achieve a contemporary, somewhat minimalist aesthetic, but interestingly, through using unique, older pieces. And there’s something about this mix of old and new that seems so very now.
Elsie Green, Open Monday-Sunday 10am-6pm, The Barlow, 6770 McKinley Street #140, Sebastopol, 707-634 0333, elsiegreen.com