At Gather, owner Michael Hagie will gladly sell you a $240 Eva Gordon ceramic plate, extolling the craftsmanship and uniqueness of every handmade piece. Then again, he’s just as enthusiastic about the Corksicle, a $24.95 freezable plastic icicle designed to maintain the temperature of a bottle of wine.
That unassuming flexibility is the key to Gather’s steady growth in a difficult economy with lots of competition from national home decor stores.
“Any way we are able to adapt, we will,” Hagie says. “I’m not too proud to sell something someone needs and wants.”
Gather recently moved up the block at 50th & France to a larger, more prominent storefront across from Salut. There’s room to breathe and to better showcase key categories, including tabletop, ceramics, home fragrance, art, and stationery. Hagie also added to the mix with jewelry, reading glasses, books, and quirky novelties such as a solar Queen of England doll that waves, children’s travel games, and household items you might expect to see advertised on TV, such as My Amazing Cloth.
It’s a slippery slope to tacky, but there’s method to Hagie’s product extensions. The cloth really works. The travel games are handy as gifts on the go from frantic parents or doting grandparents. And that Queen of England doll? Well, Hagie is rather fond of the Queen. Turns out, his customers are too.
He’s managed to incorporate some impulse buys without creating clutter or taking away from the visual impact of the store.
Gather opened seven years ago with an emphasis on Italian style and upscale home decor. At that time, people were spending lavishly on centerpieces and serving trays.
“In 2008, when we started getting into quicker purchases—jewelry, gifts—it was a turning point for us,” Hagie says.
Now Gather’s look is more transitional, as Hagie tries to gently coax his customers toward silver frames and modern glass. But he’ll never give up the classic florals, rusted reds, and ornate serving pieces, because, as he has learned from experience, that’s what Edina shoppers want.
“It’s all about connecting with customers.”
5041 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-920-1400, gatheronfrance.com