An anonymous shopper describes the holiday atmosphere and marketing strategies at several home textile retailers in New York, NY. Some stores that are reviewed include Bloomingdale’s Felissimo, Gracious Home, Abraham & Strauss and Bergdorf Goodman. Gracious Home features Karen Lee Ballard’s Home Collection and a wide variety of home linens and accessories. Bloomingdale’s was very busy, especially with a Ralph Lauren Home Collection sale.

It used to be that the Christmas selling season didn’t officially start until the helium was released from Bullwinkle and Underdog after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now, however, everybody’s trying to get the jump on the season. Call Wal-Mart in early November and one hears, “Happy Holidays.” Still, the season can’t start soon enough for HFD’s “anonymous shopper” who took a recent tour of Manhattan to examine how some leading home textile retailers balance business and holiday cheer. Here’s what we found.

1 9:30 A.M.:

BLOOMINGDALE’S

At 9:30, holiday, shopping angst abated for those of us who rode the escalator to the sixth floor of the venerable 59th St. flagship. There we found a side on Ralph Lauren Home Collection bedding. Of course, if you’re a newcomer comer to the store, it could be a good half hour before you find your way around the department’s nooks and crannies.

Lauren’s Black Isadora pattern, featured on the primary bedding display, piqued my curiosity. At this hour, it seems, no one is busier than a sales associate who is restocking, helping customers and tidying up the floor. Even so, the sales associate was a most gracious host. Asked about the availability ability of a Black Isadora king flat sheet ($24.99), he replied that the store was out of stock, but said he could call the company and have the item shipped to my home at no extra charge.

2 10:30 A.M.:

JANOVIC PLAZA

There were no hints of Christmas mayhem at the do-it-yourself venue, which seemed immune to the season’s flow of shoppers. The store was immaculate and it was business as usual in the home textiles department where sales associates negotiated among the phones, catalogs, samples, cutting boards and work desks.

I was impressed that they juggled all these duties and yet did not let me feel neglected. Since I was shopping for a wallpaper border for my bathroom, I perused the offerings and chose one caused Banquet from Coloroll. My sales associate took one look at it and whispered, “You’re not putting fruits in the bathroom.” Then she spent 20 minutes making more appropriate suggestions. after I decided on one, she advised me to take home a sample piece and “live with it.” I appreciated that, since I probably would have been too embarrassed to suggest this course myself.

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