When it comes to iconic NYC buildings, there’s the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, and 888 Broadway, the longtime home of abc carpet & home. Every New Yorker has at one point stepped foot in this legendary store, which is celebrating 125 years in business this year. Suki LaBarre, vice president of merchandising and e-commerce, and Sid Banon, part of the leadership team at abc, tell us about the early roots of the store and why they’re still so relevant today.
The abc carpet & home store has been around for 125 years. How did the company begin?
SID BANON: abc carpet & home originally started as a pushcart business selling carpets on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In the 1980s, abc moved to our flagship location at 888 Broadway—where we still are today—selling handmade rugs and broadloom carpet. In 1985, abc rebranded from abc carpet to abc carpet & home, expanding our offerings to furniture and decorative accents, with a focus on global and worldly design. Today, we’re still helping bring magic home to customers, both in-store and online, and are proud to have one of the largest and most diverse rug and home collections in the world.
What have been the cornerstones of the store’s longevity?
BANON: We’ve truly become a shopping destination for the NYC community, and for customers from across the country and globe. I think a huge part of that is because we’ve created such a special experience within the store and have such a diverse collection of pieces; you can truly find anything you need for your home. We’ve always been rooted in craftsmanship, and thoughtfully and ethically source our products within the highest level of quality and detail, which is reflected within our assortment.
How did you mark this special birthday?
BANON: We celebrated with a fun in-store gathering for friends and family of the abc brand. It was a magical night; we were excited to be able to show off the store and celebrate this milestone with a lot of folks who have been a part of our journey over the years.
When did you move to your iconic 888 Broadway location, and how has the store evolved?
BANON: abc carpet & home moved to 888 in 1981, first focusing on carpet and rugs. Since then, we’ve grown our assortment for all areas of the home, including furniture, décor, and accents that can fit any style or space, as well as a selection of artisanal and vintage jewelry. While the magic and nostalgia you can find in our store has remained, we have always been customer- centric and have kept customer feedback in mind when it comes to merchandising, the flow of our store, and how we design the different vignettes throughout the space. We always want to make sure we’re creating a seamless shopping experience when they visit our store.
You’ve spent significant energy amping up your digital experience. How is the website similar to the in-person experience?
SUKI LABARRE: It’s been an exciting challenge to create a digital experience that captures the magic of the store and the brand itself. Our goal has been to create an immersive website that is as inspiring as it is easy to navigate. We’ve achieved this with rich editorial content, video integration, artisan storytelling, and multiple entry points to interact with our collection. We see the website as a gateway for abc customers, whether they want to shop directly online or use it as a preview to the magic in our stores.
What remains the speciality of abc? Is it still carpet?
LABARRE: Yes, our rug and carpet assortment is unlike any other in the world, including the largest collection of oversize rugs, which we are quite proud of. Each piece is completely one-of-a-kind, exclusive to abc, and has a special story to tell. Our large in-stock inventory ranges from traditional tribal rugs from Morocco to vibrant overdyes made from recycled sari silks, and Turkish Oushaks whose origins date back to the early 1900s. From modern to traditional and abstract to tribal, we remain true to being curators of rugs and carpets in every size from all around the world.
What are some of the other popular items sold at the store?
LABARRE: Furniture is also a large part of the business. We work with a lot of great partners that our customers love, like Saba and Thayer Coggin, and also have our own upholstery line, Cobble Hill. There are a lot of fun frame and fabric combinations in our Cobble Hill collection that our customers can create that fit any style. Beautiful dining has also always been an abc staple. We have abcDNA, our exclusive line of vintage- inspired glassware and tableware, as well as lovely ceramics and porcelain pieces from Astier de Villatte and Ginori 1735, which our customers love.
What is the abc custom rug studio?
LABARRE: In addition to our large collection of rugs, we have also relaunched our state-of-the-art custom rug and broadloom carpet business should the customer want to design something original. Over the years, abc has cultivated a vast design and sourcing network, which makes it possible for us to customize any rug or carpet design our customer is looking for in any fabric.
Tell us about abcFabric.
LABARRE: We introduced abcFabric last year to expand our customer’s design possibilities with more than 950-plus upholstery and drapery options. We offer a variety of different colors and textures, all made with quality materials like linen, cotton, performance, and sustainable blends by the yard.
What’s something your customers would be surprised to know about abc carpet & home?
LABARRE: That our assortment is still ever-expanding across every category. We have one of the biggest rug collections in the world and have a constant flow of new and exclusive arrivals across furniture, jewelry, bedding, décor, and more. And while the store’s physical space may be a bit smaller these days, we’re committed to bringing that same magical experience to our website.
How is abc planning to grow in the next 125 years?
BANON: We want to continue to build upon the abc legacy and keep bringing our customers the magic and inspiration that you feel when you walk into our flagship store across all of our channels. Right now, the focus is continuing to create a seamless online experience, while also maintaining the integrity of the in-store brick- and-mortar magic. We want to keep working with our artisan and design partners on different in-store events, engage with designers for different opportunities, and introduce the abc brand to even more people.