Welcome to our new column Shop Girl, a bi-weekly post that will review area stores.
660 Exeter Street, Baltimore 21202
Hours: 10am-9pm Monday-Saturday, 11am-6pm Sunday
Of all the trendy shops in Harbor East, Arhaus Furniture is the largest, its 16,000 square feet occupying nearly half a city block. It’s a confident presence in a neighborhood of repurposed lofts and open-plan condos — full of young buyers looking for furniture that’s a cut above Ikea, but less serious than mom’s dining room table. Arhaus’s southern entrance, on Aliceanna Street, across from South Moon Under, lures shoppers with floor- to-ceiling windows and great-looking room displays. Next thing you know you’re inside, whether you were really looking for a distressed oak daybed or not.
The shop floor is light and bright, with furniture and accessories on the fashion-forward side of Restoration Hardware. Comparisons between the two are inevitable: quality and pricing is similar, both stores tend toward large scale pieces in solid hardwoods. Both favor neutral-toned fabrics in linen, leather and tweed. Arhaus’ strength is in a brighter and more varied fabric selection (because, really, shades of grey is not decorating) with more one-of-a kind items and a more fun aesthetic.
On the day I was there, customers ranged from fashionable young women, one with decorator in tow, clearly on a buying mission, to couples dreamily putting together a wish list, and even a few wistful-looking single guys. A pleasant and knowledgeable young man approached me immediately, letting me know about a weekend sale event, and guiding me towards the “statement” armchair I had spotted across the floor ($1,599 down from $2,199 with free fabric upgrade). He wandered off when I wanted to browse, but reappeared, with flawless timing, to answer questions.
Prices here are not cheap, but not outrageous by any means. Sales and promotions are frequent and varied. There’s a plain linen sofa marked at $809, down from $2700. Beautifully framed butterfly prints at $159 each, down from $349 (would anyone buy them at $349? Probably not.) A giant bed is piled with throw pillows in an pretty assortment of fake fur, bright silks and soft flannels, marked down from the $150 range to the $39 range.Some interesting India patterned cotton lamp shades from $39-$59.
A line of architectural salvage pieces add character. Accessories make use of organic materials — glass, stone and wood. There are interior specialists who will come to your house with highly rated (according to Yelp) advice on choosing colors, styles and mixing new stuff in with the old. They had a number of complaints about delivery and post-sale problem solving, (Yelp again) but so do other interiors stores.
Creativity: B+ good for what it is – a high-end mall store
Service: A+ staff is enthusiastic, relaxed and very informed
Price: $$$ for the level of quality, it’s on the money
Best find: Turquoise painted bombay chest, $599