Mitchell Gold: Looking to help make Austin ‘modern’

Gary Dinges | American-Statesman Staff
Source: My Statesman

Among the nearly 100 tenants who’ve leased space at Domain Northside are some of the buzziest, most-sought-after shops and restaurants in retailing today.

The North Austin mixed-use project, developed by locally based Endeavor Real Estate Group, has drawn big crowds since businesses started opening this fall.

It’s exactly the reaction Mitchell Gold, the co-founder of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, said he’d hoped for when the furniture retailer decided to open a Central Texas store.

While some Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams merchandise had been available locally through other shops in recent years, the new Domain Northside store at 11701 Domain Blvd. is a 12,000-square-foot, company-run, “signature” location.

Known for its clean, modern looks, furnishings from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams have become popular with everyday consumers, as well as TV producers, with pieces regularly popping up on shows such as “The Good Wife” and “CBS This Morning.”

Gold sat down with the American-Statesman during a recent visit to Austin to talk about the retailer’s expansion plans and more.

American-Statesman: Why’d you decide to open a new store in Austin?

Mitchell Gold: Texas is a great market for us. And a city like Austin is just perfect. In America, there are 60 or 70 markets to really put a successful store and Austin’s right at the top of the list of places that we don’t have a store already. We have at any given moment a list of 10 or 12 markets that we’re interested in, but it’s often driven by commercial real estate, what’s available. You can’t just go and build a store anywhere. We want to be in a higher-end environment with great adjacencies with other stores with similar price points and style sense. We want to be around good restaurants, movie theaters.

What, in particular, drew you to Domain Northside?

It’s very exciting. We’ve been involved since the very early stages and were able to pick a premier location. It’s always nice for us to be near Pirch because they’re very complimentary to us. They’re selling beautiful appliances and bathrooms and kitchens that really compliment what we do. We love to be near Whole Foods. It’s a lot of traffic and people who have an aesthetic for food, as well as able to afford that level. It’s nice to be across from Restoration Hardware. And there’s some others, too.

For someone who’s never been to one of your stores, what should they expect when they visit?

This store is 12,000 square feet and shows a lot of our collection. And it has associates who are trained thoroughly, who have been to our factory. It’s only showing and selling our furniture and our look. All the settings are designed by Bob and myself and the team and it’s reflective of the catalog we put together, which is a lot of inspiration shots, so it really gives the consumer to see an opportunity to see a setting and how it could be in their home.

Who is your target customer?

People that have a similar style sense and people who can afford what we’re doing, and generally that translates to a household income of over $75,000. Our customers tend to be well-educated – 90 percent have a bachelor’s degree, 60 percent have a master’s degree. The thrust of our business is 34- to 54-year-olds, but we certainly have from opposite ends of that also. We incredibly have a lot of 65-, 70-, 80-year-old people who are moving and want everything fresh and new. I always find it so interesting when I’m in a store and I see a couple more my age and they’re totally buying everything new. They got rid of the house they brought their kids up in. They have a new, 2,500-square-foot home and they totally want it fresh and modern.

What are the growth plans for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams going forward?

Generally we’re opening three to five stores a year. We are always studying the household incomes in an area. We’re studying the education level and what people do. This year, we opened in Austin. A couple weeks later, we opened in King of Prussia, Pa. We opened in Denver. Then, in early 2017, we’ll open in Cincinnati. And then in Fort Worth later in 2017. We’re looking at the San Francisco market.

What’s your signature look?

More and more people, as their life is cluttered with Facebook and Twitter, there’s an interesting dynamic that happens. They want to streamline their lives and modern tends to lend itself to that more than florals or striped chairs. People like the fact that we use a lot of solid colors. We have our own iconic aesthetic. We didn’t invent modern, but we reinvigorated it and really set a force in motion.

There are a lot of home furnishings stores out there. Why should someone choose Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams?

Furnishing a home is complicated sometimes, and it’s scary to a lot of people. A lot of people, when you talk about furnishing or refurnishing their home, you can just see it in their body language. One thing we have that’s really different from a lot of stores is we’ve got an experienced, exceptionally well-trained team of designers that can come up with a floorplan for a customer’s home. We can it make it very comfortable, in many different ways, to come and shop in our store. It’s why we have many loyal customers who are there year after year. They keep coming back to us.