by Karen Derr
Furniture and home decor manufacturer/retailer Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has opened an 11,000-square-foot Houston signature store in Highland Village, one of the city’s most dynamic shopping areas. Only two years after a store licensed (but not owned) by the company closed on upper Kirby, the new Houston location is one of only six that the company plans to open this year. Co-founder Mitchell Gold says he feels the new location, which once housed Restoration Hardware, is a better fit. “It’s more open and has two entrances, one on Westheimer and one on Suffolk,” he explains.
Seemingly determined to be in the Houston market, the owners point to the fact that for Bob Williams, visiting Houston is like coming home. He grew up in the area and graduated from high school in nearby Conroe. Moreover, with the company’s decidedly modern style, Gold believes, “Our aesthetic and our vibe is very in sync with Houston. There’s a lot of modernity here, [with homes where] our furniture fits in well.” According to Gold, Houston is in the top five cities in America for home furnishings sales.
Lights, Camera, Comfort…
Last year, the national retailer signed a unique deal for a licensed furniture collection in collaboration with the CBS hit series The Good Wife. The collection features furniture seen on the show’s sets. “In the world of social media, people were writing ‘Where can we get the chair in Will’s office?’ or ‘Where can I get the sofa in Alicia’s home?’” Gold explains. “Christine [Baranski] has a house full of our furniture, too.” In only seven months, the collection has had over a million dollars in sales.
Filling a void in the Houston market between same-day delivery and the standard eight to twelve weeks’ wait for upholstered furniture, the Highland Village store will have many items in stock, while custom-upholstered furniture can be delivered in only six weeks.
Some highlights of the fall 2013 line include metal and glass sofa-table-height book shelves that can completely wrap around a sofa or sectional. They deliver a ton of storage and display space while serving as an end table for lamps and sofa-side drinks.
Browsing the showroom, one can’t help but notice a less functional piece called The Black Sheep. As the tagline states, “Every family has one.” This life-sized resin sheep adds a bit of fun to a modern or traditional setting. While chief designer Bob Williams takes pride in creating furniture that is classically modern, it’s clear he’s not above having a little fun with decorative pieces.
The company’s line of wall art is an area of the business both Gold and Williams take a hands-on approach to, since both have large personal art collections. Photography is front and center this fall, with large images of horses in clean contemporary frames in two of the showroom vignettes. Mineral specimens imported from India are also framed for hanging in groups. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’ signature calm, comforting style is still prevalent, accented with strategic pops of color and bright white or bold patterns in pillows and occasional chairs.
Likewise, customers can also feel comfortable doing business with a company whose mission statement—which is really a list of “who we are” statements—includes commitments to early childhood development, equality, and even pets. The new Highland Village location is pet friendly, with dog treats available and dog beds in coordinating upholstery for sale.
In an age where people vote with their purchases, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more LGBT-friendly, progressive company. That’s good news for LGBT customers taking advantage of their free in-home design services. Gold was a founding board member of Faith in America, an organization devoted to educating and changing the message that American churches and synagogues send to LGBT youth. He now works on special projects for Faith in America, and will be participating in an upcoming panel discussion titled “Religion, Politics, and LGBT Equality” in Hickory, North Carolina—in the buckle of the Bible Belt, according to Gold. The discussion will be moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. All the company’s upholstered pieces are made in North Carolina, and 80 percent of the company’s total sales are products made in America.
Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams have published two books, and have a third coming out in February 2014 called Who We Are, which will speak to their unique corporate culture. “When we started our company in 1989 at our first Highpoint market, seven other companies launched at that market. Out of seven, we’re the only one still in business,” Gold says.
With all of the good news about the Houston economy and home sales, and the store’s plum location just down the road from the Galleria, this upscale home furnishings company with national name recognition seems poised for success. The grand opening is planned for Thursday, September 26, from 6 to 9 p.m., at 4019 Westheimer Road. You can visit them online at mgbwhome.com. For more information on Faith in America, go to faithinamerica.org.
Karen Derr is a Houston-area Realtor and the founder of Boulevard Realty. She writes and speaks about home and small-business topics.