While I was there, I couldn’t help but notice some of the decorations that were up. And then wondering where they came from.
Everybody has a guy
For just about everything you buy, there is a site or group who specializes in it.
Think about it, for in home tech you go to Best Buy, for affordable furniture you go to IKEA or Wayfair, if you’re renovating your home you go to Home Depot, and for just about everything else you go to Amazon.
I figured, “Ok, there’s got to be a site that specializes in selling restaurant décor, right?” Because a lot of this stuff is pretty restaurant specific (AKA too big or obscure to put in a home), and each restaurant aims to have an eat-centric vibe.
In other words, I thought there had to be an “Amazon for restaurant furnishing and design”. One centralized place that had an big smorgasbord of stuff you would want to decorate a restaurant with.
I couldn’t imagine a world where a restaurant owner would have to piece together a collection from various home décor sites.
But I was wrong
Just to clarify
In case you can’t figure out what I’m talking about, I’ve provided some examples. You would never find any of these items inside of my home, but they contribute to the vibe of a restaurant.
Like I said before, each restaurant wants to create a unique feel, so one of the reasons it takes so long is the designer must find these really unique pieces. It’s bad enough that I thought they were going to Amazon or West Elm, but they’re not even doing that. Often times the designers will literally go from antique shop to antique shop trying to find custom art, wasting time and money.
This story is best told by Cracker Barrel
The best example of just how unique a restaurant can be, let’s look at Cracker Barrel.
The walls are lined with antiques. The only rules? Nothing can be made within the last 10 years and they all have to be authentic.
And you can bet they don’t get all of them at the same place. So how do they do it?
Well, they’ve got a guy, Larry, Cracker Barrel’s Chief Picker. He and his team are constantly on the lookout for antiques all over the country, and when they find good ones they send them all to one big warehouse in Tennessee. And when I say constantly, I mean Cracker Barrel has been collecting these items for over 35 years.
This warehouse has over 100,000 artifacts that are rotated in or used for new locations at any given time. The place it practically a museum.
It’s like the second coming of American Pickers, but the goal this time is to find something that is pleasant to look at while eating waffles.
What’s the point?
This kind of effort may be worth it for Cracker Barrel, since it’s their shtick and they can afford it, but for many other stand-alone restaurants it’s just more exhaustive than they can afford.
Think about it, with every new restaurant you must hire a designer (who already demands a high pay) to scour places looking for art to fit a specific aesthetic. Those are just the table stakes. It’s just not feasible.
There should be a go to store/site that specializes in selling items meant for restaurant décor (size, eclectics, volumes). Imagine if Cracker Barrel recorded all the inventory in that warehouse and then listed it all for sale. They’d make a killing being the one stop shop for cool decorations.
Etsy and Amazon both have filters for “restaurant décor”, but they’re mostly window stickers, and let’s face it you probably don’t want to outfit a restaurant using Amazon. There’s also WebstaurantStore, but that’s more for refrigerators, kitchen sinks, etc.
I couldn’t find a site that served this specific niche. I couldn’t find a place for art that goes over a urinal, or some rustic canoe to hang from the ceiling, or light fixtures that look like they’re from Mario Kart.
Minted New York
One of my favorite current entrepreneurs is Marcus Millione of Minted New York. Starting off selling jewelry, scaling to apparel, to doing a shoe collaboration with Saucony all in a few years, his story has been impressive. What more impressive, are his products. Nearly every drop sells out, and Minted never sacrifices quality. Go check them out if you’re looking for running gear or a hoodie that will last you a lifetime. Better yet, give him a follow on Twitter, because he’s doing it all in public. #ad
Packaged well, I think a centralized place to find all this stuff would perform well. If you could establish yourself as a one stop shop for all things restaurant décor you’d be set.
Is this a super niche market? Yes, but there’s millions of eateries out there who overlook the cost associated with hiring out decorating responsibilities.
If you’re good at pairing colors and vibes and have an eye for design, this might just be for you.