By JOHN T. WARD
In this edition of Retail Churn: A high-profile downtown Red Bank store vacancy has been filled by a new housewares and gift shop.
The shop, in the heart of the business district, features an eye-catching Italianate facade, with an inset entryway flanked by a curved-glass display case beneath a curving staircase.
At 2,000 square feet, the space is on the large side for Red Bank. But Pickett & White owner Anne Pecora has stocked the shelves and tables with hundreds of items meant to attract both male and female customers, and entice them to saunter through without a sense of hurry.
“And anybody should be able to come into one of my stores and buy something,” said Pecora. “I don’t care if it’s a pack of matches.”
She’s being literal: Pickett & White sells boxed matches and jarred toothpicks. Most of the offerings, though, wouldn’t fit in a pocket — vases; glassware; pillows; doormats and throw-rugs; indoor and outdoor furniture. One display case features Prohibition-themed barware, including a cocktail recipe book, drink mixes, flasks and more.
“It’s a big space,” said manager Karen Sidun. “There’s no reason to rush out.”
The shop is Pecora’s fourth, but the first under the Pickett & White name. The other three, branded as the Spotted Whale, operate in the summer-only communities of Barnegat Light, Ocean City and Stone Harbor. They also sell housewares and gifts, but with a “coastal” theme. Not so here, Pecora said.
“Even though Red Bank is just five miles from the shore, I don’t think of it as a coastal market,” she said. “This is the first suburban-living store we’ve done.”
The store’s name is made up, meant to connote “an all-American white picket fence,” said Pecora.
Its opening marks another milestone in a rapid transformation. Pecora, a 57-year-old mother of three, spent years as a designer of commercial spaces, including supermarkets and offices, without much professional interest in residential design. But years of “going to market” — trade shows for designers — she picked up a sense of what might work in a home-oriented retail environment, and took the plunge with her first store just four years ago.
Having recently relocated her family to Rumson, in part because it was midway between her shore store’s and her husband’s job in Hackensack, Red Bank got on her radar as a place where she might open her next store, she said.
Pecora’s 23-year-old son, Matt, a recent graduate of the University of Miami with a marketing degree, is the company’s head of business development. He and his mother chose the Broad Street location, he said, because it matched the primary criteria they used for the inland move.
“You want to find cultural and historical centers with a sense of community,” he said.