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Crate & Barrel Headquarters
Crate & Barrel is a chain of Americanmarker retail stores, based in Northbrook, Illinoismarker, specializing in housewares, furniture (indoor and out), and home accessories. Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first store in 1962, on Wells Street in the then-bohemian Old Townmarker neighborhood of Chicago, Illinoismarker. Today there are over 170 stores in the United States. Crate & Barrel has two sister stores. CB2 is home furnishings division geared toward young adults created in 2000, and The Land of Nod sells home furnishings and gifts for children.

After their honeymoon in Europe, the Segals became interested in providing functional yet aesthetically pleasing products to young couples who were just starting out. They were surprised to see that Europe had many beautiful and durable products at reasonable prices, and were inspired to start their own store in the United States.

The first store opened in response to a flourishing of world trade in home furnishings due to the early 1960s round of talks about the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Segals sought out small European companies that were not represented in America and negotiated direct purchases from these factories that could be sold to the consumer while avoiding a wholesaler's markup. To this day, a majority of Crate & Barrel's products are direct imports from Europe, though Thaimarker, Mexicanmarker and Indianmarker glass and textiles can also be found in their stores.

The Segals derived the company name by the materials that they originally used to display items in their Chicago store. The Segals were originally going to call their company "Barrel and Crate", but a friend suggested that they reverse the order of the words. They turned over the crates and barrels that the merchandise came in, let the wood excelsior spew out, and stacked up the china and glass. This helped emphasize their strongest selling point, that their products were direct imports. Although locally managed, the controlling stake of Crate & Barrel's stock is now owned by Otto GmbHmarker.

International expansion

In 2008, Crate and Barrel opened a store at Yorkdale Shopping Centremarker in Toronto, Ontario. A new 2-story, building, similar to other newly opened Crate and Barrel stores in the U.S., was constructed on this site. According to Crain's Chicago Business, future international expansion in Canada and possibly other countries is also planned. A second store in Calgary, Canada opened in October 2009.


Crate and Barrel offers a variety of "upmarket" housewares, furniture, and related merchandise. These are displayed in the "vignette" style, where items are grouped together as they might appear in the home. The company was an innovator of this style, which has since become more widely used.


  1. It Came From Chicago, and Its Not Puffy - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog
  2. Chicago Business News, Analysis & Articles | Crate & Barrel to expand outside U.S. | Crain's
  4. Crate & Barrel- Companies Fools Wish Were Public (special), June 23, 1999

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