By JOHN T. WARD
In this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn, the seemingly relentless restaurantization of Red Bank takes a bathroom break.
Nemo Tile and Stone opened a showroom last week in the former Nirvana clothing store space at 21 White Street. But the New York-based company’s first foray into New Jersey is no mere toe-in-the-water: it’s a 4,000-square-foot plunge into the heart of downtown.
Nemo’s showroom, which has its own parking on the left side of the building, will soon have a separate area in the rear where contractors can pick up tile, grout and other materials. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
The space, uninterrupted by columns or interior walls, features several dozen “vignettes” of kitchens and baths to showcase tile, stone and porcelain wall and floor products in hundreds of varieties.
Nemo doesn’t sell the sinks, tubs and other fixtures, but already has had at least one customer say she wants the “whole vignette” in her home, said showroom manager Molly Taft.
Based in Manhattan and operating stores in Queens, Long Island and Philadelphia, Nemo is a family-owned business that dates to 1921. Its decision to site a store here began after a visit by third-generation owner Matt Karlin and his wife, Donna, said Taft.
“They couldn’t get over how many people were shopping on a Saturday,” she said.
The fact that there’s a Restoration Hardware store right around the corner was a plus, said Taft, a Fair Haven resident who worked at Restoration for eight years. Homeowners in the process of remodeling will like the ability to visit both stores in a single trip, she said.
In fact, the Nemo showroom uses Restoration Hardware fixtures in some of its displays, said Taft.
Among Nemo’s products are tiles designed to closely mimic gleaming wood floors or distressed wood, as well as porcelain products that are indistinguishable from marble, limestone and other natural products but come at a fraction of the price, said Taft.
The building had been vacant since Nirvana moved to the Grove at Shrewsbury two years ago. Store owner Sunil Amatya still owns building, which adjoins the 2.3-acre municipal parking lot now being eyed for a possible parking garage. The store offers parking for nine vehicles on its eastern wall, where access to a soon-to-open contractors’ counter is also located.