Crate & Barrel plans ’09 LV premiere

A state where classy design accents include neon and sequins will soon welcome a home retailer heralded for tasteful, clean and modern furnishings.

Chicago-based Crate & Barrel will open its first Nevada store in 2009 at Summerlin Centre in Las Vegas.

The privately owned chain of about 145 stores is known for a product line that uses European styling, high-quality construction and moderate pricing to appeal to customers who have upscale tastes but not always the budget to match.

"You could almost call it modernist, but it is more European," said retail expert Mark Rein of Acquity Group in Chicago. "You are going to get a very nice housewares and furniture store that has fantastic merchandising."

Crate & Barrel’s presence should complement the status-seeking customer demographic likely to shop at Summerlin Centre, a 100-acre retail, dining and office center under development near the Las Vegas Beltway at Sahara.

"It starts with the bridal market … and it goes up," Crate & Barrel spokeswoman Bette Kahn said describing the company’s core customers. "It is not so much the income level as it is the level of sophistication and education."

Crate & Barrel’s core products include glassware and flatware and the store is a popular choice for couples registering for wedding gifts. It also offers a furniture line and targets customers with second homes and parents buying for their grown children, Kahn said.

Competitors for Crate & Barrel’s market include Pottery Barn and Williams- Sonoma, Target and Ikea.

Rein said lower prices than Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn and higher quality than Ikea set Crate & Barrel apart. He also said the company’s private ownership and relatively low number of stores makes its product line more flexible than a giant retailer like Target.

"They don’t need the large lot sizes other chains need so they are able to use more unique, interesting suppliers around the world," Rein said.

Summerlin Centre owners, General Growth Properties of Chicago, expect much of the customer traffic will come from the Summerlin community in west Las Vegas. About 300 acres next to Summerlin Centre is under development as a residential community.

Summerlin Centre developers have pursued a Crate & Barrel for years, even before General Growth took over the project in 2004 with the acquisition of Rouse Co.

"We think there has been a market for a Crate & Barrel," said Jim Graham, a General Growth spokesman. "It is a big decision for them to go into a market like Las Vegas for the first time."

Graham said in surveys potential Summerlin Centre customers listed Nordstrom and Crate & Barrel as stores they would most like to see in the mall.

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