Every week we turn to the top retailers in men's lifestyle—from the owners of small independent stores to buyers from multinational chains—to find out what items have been selling like hotcakes and how they stock their shelves. Today we talk to Rose Apodaca and Andy Griffith of A+R, the killer design store on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California.
What are your recent best sellers?
Rose: We are doing crazy business with the Jambox, the POP Handsets in all colors, Cast of Vices jewelry and leather unisex bags, and the MYdrap napkins. We're also constantly selling out of watches by Uniform Wares and Mutewatch. Each brand is at opposite extremes—aesthetically and functionally—so they tend to draw different kinds of customers. Still, the collective enthusiasm is high.
What's your own favorite item of everything on offer in the store?
Andy: The John's Phone in white. We discovered it in Barcelona this summer. It's actually from Amsterdam, and we're the first in North America to stock it. I love that it merges a high-tech concept—the cell phone—with very low-tech features. It's also great that the charge lasts up to three weeks, which makes it fantastic for traveling.
Rose: We wouldn't be stocking what we stock unless we absolutely loved it. Tough as it is to choose, I do love the Plumen light bulbs by Sam Wilkinson. They're too beautiful to cover up with a lamp shade. I also love black + blum's Hot-Pot BBQ because it's designed so well. Both products epitomize good design because they problem solve, function well, look cool, and make life better.
What item have you just gotten in to the store that you're most excited
Andy: The Mutewatch, because it's unlike any other timepiece on the market.
Rose: We just got Urbanista's "Copenhagen" Headphones in all five finishes. I immediately grabbed the green; Andy took a black pair. The sound quality is fantastic, and I love the way they fold up and store in a case resembling those for sunglasses. Very on-the-go-go.
Is there some new product or brand that you haven't gotten in to A+R
that you're just dying to get in the store?
Rose: Jasper Morrison's Punkt phone. We carry the alarm clocks Jasper designed for Punkt and love it so much we use a red one in our bedroom. The Punkt phone is a landline phone that looks cool and boasts a great many useful functions. We're at the front of the line to stock them as soon as the North American licensing is resolved. Hopefully soon!
Anything else you're looking to expand into?
Rose: With the opening of our larger flagship on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice in April 2010, we started offering more furniture from lines that are hard to get in the U.S. The response has been incredible, and we're hoping to expand our range of models and brands in the future. We also quietly launched our customized registry online and in-store in the last year and are shopping much more aggressively to fulfill requests for tableware, bedding, kitchenware, and other essentials with an A+R spin that our customers celebrating birthdays and weddings are asking for. Stay tuned!
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