Cost Plus World Market, in The Corbin Collection in West Hartford, had its grand opening and ribbon cutting on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.
By Ronni Newton
Cost Plus World Market is in a category all its own – a place where you can find furniture, lighting, home decor, kitchen and bathroom furnishings, food, holiday items, candles and soaps, rugs, greeting cards, and more – all selected by a buying team that has developed relationships with artisans from throughout the world.
“This store is definitely unique,” General Manager Leslie Rock said as she and representatives of the regional management team provided a tour on Wednesday. “We’re bringing a blend of international products to the West Hartford market.”
Richard Bacik, district manager for the Northeast, said that there are four core concentrations in the store: decor, seasonal, entertaining, and gifting. Within each, there is an eclectic array of products.
“At any moment in time we are importing from 50 different countries, and that makes our product ever-changing,” said Eastern Region Senior Vice President Fred Rancour. It’s rare to have to have the same product for more than six months, with variations by the season as well as what the buying team finds.
Cost Plus World Market has its roots on the West Coast, and the first store opened in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in 1958. The company was purchased by Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2012, and while there are some overlaps with the parent company’s other brands, which also include the Christmas Tree Shop, Cost Plus World Market retains its unique product offerings.
Rancour said that not only does the buying team go out in search of unique items, they also work with artisans to develop propriety products.
The store’s overall style is fluid, and changes with the season, and with worldwide trends. Sometimes it could have a real “urban” feel, while other times the product assortment may take on a more Asian or South American vibe, Rancour said.
What’s consistent is that the country of origin is clearly-identified on all products, said Rancour as he held a tin of Nyackers Pepparkakor, the perfectly-crunchy and spicy ginger snaps that are made in Sweden. The cookies are sold in an iconic holiday tin, and are themselves an iconic holiday food that many eagerly await each season. And they’re great for making pie crusts or ice cream sandwiches, Rancour added.
The Swiss chocolate, Rancour said, is “the real deal.”
Not all of the products sold at Cost Plus World Market are imported from another country, and after all the U.S. is part of the “world,” Rancour said, but the domestic products are iconic and authentic to a region. Macadamia nut products are from Hawaii, and there’s Ghiradelli chocolate from San Francisco. “That’s why people come here, to find the ‘real deal,'” Rancour said.
Continuing the tour through the food area, where the products have a definite seasonal influence, Rancour notes the Belgian cookies and spice cakes, Stollen from Germany, and Italian holiday cakes. Cost Plus World Market also has some private label food items, including a cocoa which Rancour said is delicious.
There is an extensive collection of coffees and teas, and free samples are available for tasting. The coffee beans are labeled “direct trade,” indicating that Cost Plus World Market representatives have established relationships with the growers.
The center section of Cost Plus World Market is devoted to seasonal offerings, and because the store is opening at this time of year, the focus is on Christmas and other winter holidays. There are ornaments, stockings, and a collection of unique retro toys like catapult sets. “It’s a little bit different,” Rancour said.
Many stores offer candles, but Rancour said that Cost Plus World Market’s selection is unique. The fragrances are not just apples and cinnamon, and instead include leather and white tobacco. “It’s our core competency to bring something different to the market,” Rancour said.
There’s also a large selection of artisan soaps – perfect for housewarming gifts, Rock said.
Cost Plus World Market also sells a variety of styles of furniture, including couches, chairs, desks, dining room sets, chairs, and more.
Rancour said that much of the furniture is designed to fit into smaller spaces. Many pieces currently in stock give off an “urban” vibe, and others are designed as “transitional” pieces that can serve different purposes and appeal to a wide age range.
“Our customers like to mix and match,” Bacik said. “We encourage the combination of different types of materials,” he said, noting the eclectic mixture of light fixture, lamps, and shades.
The dining section offers a unique selection of tables, many of which are long and narrow. There’s also a table that has built-in stools attached. “They are good tables for old West Hartford colonials,” Rock said.
There’s more: bar carts and accessories, table linens, towels, shower curtains, glassware, flatware, dishes, and cookware. One of the brands, Green Pan, has an exclusive arrangement to sell their Marina Collection at Cost Plus World Market.
There’s even a display of succulents that can be turned into terrariums.
If you want something and it’s not in stock, there’s a function available on the website that allows for an online purchase with pick up in the store.
There are many other items available on the website, but that takes away from the fun of discovering what products are on display, and from actually touching things, feeling the fabrics. “It’s the kind of store you could walk into and spend hours and hours,” said Rock.
Cost Plus World Market had a soft opening on Sunday, and Rock said that about 500 customers shopped that first day, with more each subsequent day as word spread. The grand opening celebration began on Thursday morning.
The West Hartford Cost Plus World Market location is the company’s second in Connecticut. Manchester opened during the summer, and Rancour said he feels they have covered a large part of Central Connecticut with the two stores. Further expansion in the state is likely.
According to a news release from Cost Plus World Market: “The first 100 shoppers through the door through Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018 will receive a $10 World Market gift card and a free, reusable tote bag. The store will host a twice-daily raffle prize of a $250 World Market gift card throughout the grand opening weekend. From Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 through Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, the first 250 customers who spend a minimum of $40 in the West Hartford, Connecticut store will receive two free movie certificates.”
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