When customers in Boston wanted to buy a piece of furniture from Room & Board, they’ve had to go to the New York showroom to see it up close — or, more often the case, buy it online without having touched it or seen it in person.
That ends Monday when the Minneapolis-based company opens its first New England outpost, a 39,000-square-foot showroom at 375 Newbury St., an occasion that has in-the-know shoppers and interior designers enthusiastic.
“They look good on their catalogs, but you do want to sit on the sofa you’re going to watch TV on,” said Dee Elms, co-owner of Terrat Elms Interior Design in Boston.
President and COO Bruce Champeau estimates that Room & Board already has more than 10,000 customers in Greater Boston, based on catalog and online sales.
“When I look at the product we’re offering, it’s modern, but timeless design customers have been responding to,” he said. “It’s that furniture that meets the lifestyle you choose to live.”
The design aesthetic Room & Board may be best known for is clean lines. For contemporary-minded customers, that may translate as a natural steel table while traditional shoppers may prefer a version made of solid walnut.
“It’s not about one size fits all,” said Champeau. “It’s about providing choices and options. A lot of what we provide is the ability to customize products.”
Customizing means selling dining tables — and even mirrors — by the inch, and putting any fabric on any seating frame.
“We’re talking six weeks for some custom products that we produce,” he said. “That’s the beauty of these American manufacturers.”
With more than 90 percent of its furniture made in the US, the company takes pride in partnerships with small, family-owned businesses such as Lyndon Furniture in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Lyndon owner Brian Ball said the hardwood company started working with Room & Board nearly 25 years ago, a relationship that has allowed Lyndon to grow from a modest custom-cabinetry shop with a staff of nine to a three-facility operation of 85 employees today.
“Their product designs are a perfect fit for who we are. They’ll come to us with ideas they have designs on. At times we work back and forth. There’s a lot of give and take in the process,” said Ball. “I’m so happy they’ve come to Boston, our neck of the woods. It’s amazing it’s taken this long to get here.”