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The Conran Shop Colonizes The Basement At ABC Carpet & Home


The Conran Shop quietly opened this week in its new location taking over the lower level of ABC Carpet & Home, and it's a glass half-full/half-empty kind of thing. Initially, we were skeptical at first of how such a bold retailer as Conran would fit into ABC's already well rounded collection of departments. Depending on your point of view you can see it as a condensed, easily digestible collection of Sir Terence Conran's highly evolved design vision, or a diminished, watered down version of his dramatic former flagship in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge. We're leaning toward the former, but there are definitely a few drawbacks to the move.

On the positive side, the Conran crew has done a remarkable job recreating the feeling of the former location which, in all fairness, was mostly underground anyway. Gone is the clutter of former tenant, Silk Trading Company (which has relocated itself a few blocks up Broadway to Domain's former domain). The space has been cleared out and cleaned up, and fixtures from the former location have migrated downtown and settled in similar configurations. Conran has broadened the the offerings under ABC's roof in other ways as well. As far as we can tell, this is the only place in the huge home store that actually has cookware or any kitchen appliances at all. Of course, it is expensive pieces from the likes of Mauviel and Alessi that are available, but they are still a welcome addition. Conran's sleek entertaining collections also make a much needed counterpoint to the increasingly dainty and fragile looking tabletop offerings on ABC's main floor. Surprisingly missing from the mix are the collections from Sir Terence's children Jasper Conran and Sophie Conran, but boxes were still being unpacked when we visited yesterday, so they may still appear. Still around are the carefully curated gift offerings as well as a more concentrated selection of lighting and other novelty items.

Still, it's not a total replica of the East Side Conran Shop. The furniture selection appears greatly reduced, and in some cases seem to have been boiled down to celebrated design pieces which would already be widely available elsewhere. Garden and Outdoor Entertaining and Bed and Bath appear to have been eliminated almost entirely with a few exception items, and rugs also seem to be gone, although it would be hard to imagine that Conran could offer any floor coverings that wouldn't already be included in ABC's own vast assortments. And, of course, the dramatic greenhouse-like building that housed the other store made a bold design statement itself which is missed in the shopping experience here. What's to become of that building, we don't know. Clearly, if it had been in a more accessible, or even highly visible location, Conran might not have had to move, but now that they have, we are betting that they will do more business in less space. Ultimately, it will probably become a more popular destination, and we are happy to see that Terence Conran will not have to once again exit his U.S. business after all.

The Conran Shop at ABC Carpet & Home 888 Broadway, Lower Level, Flatiron District



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