10 BRADLEES

This regional discounter opened its first Manhattan store just in time for Christmas. The store didn’t stint on holiday products, featuring Bardwil’s Holiday Sparkle table fashions ($9.99), a wall of holiday towel sets by Santeens of America and Cecil Saydah ($9.99)and flannel comforters by Piedmont that was merchandised in several bins ($19.99).

However, the haphazard layout of the textiles department left me wondering if the store had opened too soon. I knew I was in the bedding department when I stumbled over comforter sets strewn on the floor.

I asked a sales associate for more information (price, thread count, availability) on a Hollander Countess York Ashland twin set which was featured in an understated vignette. Obviously, these complicated questions caught him off guard. He said he had to ask the manager. Then, he promptly disappeared. For good.

11 7 P.M.:

ABC CARPET & HOME

Yes Virginia, there is too much of a good thing. I found it on the third floor of ABC Carpet & Home. “I understand,” said the sales associate, after seeing my eyes take on a dazed look when they hit upon the vast array of holiday merchandise. “This can be a little overwhelming.”

That’s putting it mildly. In addition to being perceptive, the sales associate was also brutally honest. I was interested in Frette’s Home Collection, displayed in the opening vignette near the elevator. The Aurelio twin flat sheet was $70. I must say I was tempted. The sales associate changed my mind,

“I have something that is just as good,” she said, leading me to a display of Wamsutta Supercale Elite Hemstitch sheets (250-count pima cotton). Here, a twin flat retailed for $29.99. This is my kind of sales associate – honest, professional and, just as important, down-to-earth. She showed me how the sheets coordinate with outerbedding from The Purists, which brought the purchase back into Frette price range again. The sales associate also discussed the possibilities of injecting colors such as peach and sage green into the ensemble, then left me alone to make a decision. The holiday thing may be overdone at ABC, but the sales help is right on the mark.

12 8 P.M.:

BED BATH & BEYOND

This store brings together the best elements of a home textiles shopping spree, with only the occasional display gone awry. As I entered the store, I was met by a cheerful doorman and an even cheerier greeter who handed out much-needed road maps of the colossal store.

Whoever put this store together knew what Christmas is all about – shopping convenience, product availability, everyday low prices and informative salespeople. While many other stores I visited displayed one, two or three of these characteristics, Bed Bath & Beyond had the distinction of offering an.

The store’s prodigious upfront displays showcased Christmas-themed home textiles products from all the usual vendors. The display also gave me some gift and decorating ideas. After an hour of browsing, questioning sales associates and comparing prices, I was ready to call it quits. Good thing, too, since the store closes at 9 p.m.

With much help from one of the store’s many sales associates, I bought a Pacific Coast Feather goose down pillow for $69. I turned to thank the sales associate, but he was gone and a new pillow was already on display. And to all a good night.

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