East Coast casual elegance comes to Big D, courtesy of Home, James!
“It takes a gay guy to appreciate the finer things,” Josef Schreick states with a hint of playfulness but just a hint. Schreik intends no offense to straight men, of course; he merely wants to explain how it is that his store, Home, James!, came up with its aesthetic.
Schreik and his business partner, David Cipperman, are longtime New Yorkers who liked to spend their weekends away from the city in the slow, coastal neighborhood known as the Hamptons. Schriek, a retired Estee Lauder executive, and Cipperman, a semi-retired architect, developed a style sense away from Manhattan that welcomed eclectic furnishings in lively pastels. And Home, James! was born.
The original store opened in East Hampton 20 years ago, and remains one of the last independent mom-and-pop stores well, technically pop-and-pop in the tony Long Island enclave. It has survived that long by combining the chic, casual elegance of New York’s weekend playground with the unforced whimsy of its owners’ idiosyncratic sensibilities.
They opened their second branch in Travis Walk last month because “many of our good customers live here full-time and just keep a summer home in East Hampton,” says Cipperman. “They’ve been very positive about us opening here.”
The name of the store derives from Queen Victoria’s coachman, James Darling, whom the regent would instruct, “Home, James, and don’t spare the horses!” It’s appropriate, then, that they now offer soaps that were commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II herself to give as gifts, complete with the card indicating their royal provenance. (“I’m not a Dial user,” Schriek says by way of explaining the importance of fine soaps.)
That helps illuminate Home, James’ aesthetic: “It’s all about unique gifts and items for the home,” Schriek says. “We manufacture products in our own name that are available at Neiman Marcus, At My Table and numerous other high-end retailers. We design and manufacture also under our Weekend East Hampton brand, our more casual collection.” About 85 percent of the inventory is exclusive to the store, either in Dallas or the entire U.S.
Schriek and Cipperman wallow in sharing customized gifts and unusual pieces that can usually be found only at exclusive department stores or pricey boutiques in New York and European capitals, from hand towels that can be customized with almost any breed of dog to 100 different styles of placemats and napkins (“all can be monogrammed,” Cipperman says) to elaborate handmade designer trays “made for us by two crazy boyfriends in Italy,” according to Schreik.
Like the best home d?cor, Schreik says they like to mix antiques with the new, high-end with the less formal. “We take a free attitude about putting things together.”
Because it is gay-owned Schreik and Cipperman believe in supporting the community Home, James! takes into account the diversity of gay lifestyles in stocking the store.
“So many in the gay community are adopting that we think it important to have baby things,” Schreik says. But that also requires knowing their market doesn’t necessarily want the things available at Baby Gap. “We love bold colors,” he says. And that’s something a straight guy might not get.
Home, James!, 4515 Travis St.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 20, 2007.