West Elm opens in Pinecrest with a local twist

The national furniture and home decor retailer West Elm opened its first Cleveland location on Thursday, May 24, in the mixed-use district Pinecrest in Orange Village, with a grand opening planned for tomorrow, Thursday, June 6.

Even through the popular retailer has stores in more than 85 cities nationwide and is part of the Williams-Sonoma group of companies, West Elm arrived in Cleveland with a local spin. In addition to home goods and decor, the 11,000-square-foot store carries a selection of goods from eight Ohio makers—five of which are based in the Cleveland area—and boasts a décor that gives a nod to Cleveland’s manufacturing history.

The area artists are Boundary & Thorn (fine art prints and greeting cards), Gordon Square-based FOUNT (handmade leather accessories), Lauren HB Studio (handmade geometric dishes out of Lakewood's Screw Factory), Linda’s Other Life (custom stitched Ohio-themed pillows), and Little Korboose (organic home goods).

Lucy Williams of Boundary & Thorn, who sells most of her goods online and at places like the Cleveland Flea, says she is in good company with the other local artists. “I am beyond excited to sell some of my work through West Elm, and I couldn't be more honored to be selling my products among some of the most talented makers in Cleveland,” she says. “This is just another amazing place to have my work featured and showcased. I honestly am so thrilled to be part of this amazing community.”

The eight makers are part of West Elm’s Local Program, which launched in 2013 with the aim of "empowering our shopkeepers to discover area artisans, nurturing a creative network that celebrates craftspeople and differentiates the brand with regional assortments,” says West Elm spokesperson Hannah Wickberg. “Our Local initiative continues to expand and is now in all stores supporting more than 800 U.S.-based makers and designers.”

Lauren Herzak-Bowman, owner of Lauren HB Studio, says she first approached West Elm about the store’s Local Program a couple of years ago to sell in the Columbus location, and she is happy to be featured in her hometown. All of her dishes for sale at West Elm are under $30 and come in a variety of colors.

Lauren HB Studio“It’s been good working with them,” Herzak-Bowman says. “My [work] is simple, modern, geometric, and fun. They’re not designed for any specific space, but for someplace that needs something unique or interesting. My work elevates any space where it lives.”

Linda Lackey, who taught English at Strongsville High School for 30 years before launching Linda’s Other Life on Etsy, says it felt like she got her first West Elm order instantly after the company contacted her about selling her Ohio-themed pillows. “I learned to sew as a young child from my mother and grandmother, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized my hobby could be a profitable and enjoyable business,” she observes.

Little Korboose owner April Nemeth, grew up in a “family of hippies” who taught her to check labels where things were made and raised her to be ethical and aware. That philosophy is reflected in the organic cotton tea towels she sells at West Elm. “The line is very Southwest-influenced,” she says of her simple black-and-white designs. “This is amazing that West Elm is getting in to Cleveland.”

Three Columbus makers—Bearded Woodcraft, Little City Love, and Root 23—will also be featured in the Pinecrest store. Wickberg says anyone can submit local artisan recommendations to West Elm.

The Pinecrest location also honors Cleveland’s rich manufacturing history in the store’s layout and design. An ornamental steel screen behind the register reflects Cleveland’s reputation as one of the prominent steel and ironmaking hubs, and the backing is made of maple wood—a tree native to Ohio. The checkout counter features a sculpture made of reclaimed slate triangles cut from blackboards that once hung on the walls of Cleveland schools.

To further deepen West Elm’s local connections to the Pinecrest location, West Elm officials notified LAND studio about two months ago that it had been selected as their nonprofit partner for the Pinecrest opening, according to Tara Turner, LAND studio’s director of development and communications. A portion of the grand opening proceeds will go directly to LAND studio.

Wickberg says they chose LAND studio because of the organization’s commitment to improving the city. “We look to partner with local organizations that share our values, and we were drawn to LAND Studio’s vision to make Cleveland a vibrant and competitive city that unites, inspires, and enriches its people,” she says. “Each store opening nonprofit partner is unique to that community.”

Turner says they are pleased to be included. “West Elm is committed to investing in the communities they serve and every time they open a store in a new market they chose a local partner to benefit philanthropically from their opening day,” explains Turner. “That means that a portion of the sales on that day will be donated to LAND studio as a general operating gift.”

Several Pinecrest stores are opening this month, with Shake Shack, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Bibibop Asian Grill, Club Pilates, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Apricot Lane Boutique, Laura of Pembroke, Scout and Molly’s Boutique, and Vineyard Vines all holding grand openings this week.

West Elm's grand opening celebration will be held tomorrow, Thursday, June 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a live DJ and refreshments. Guests will enjoy a 15 percent discount on all purchases during the event. Click here to RSVP.

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Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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