Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams open second North Texas store, with an eye always focused on gay rights
Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams live in North Carolina, so the Red State phenomenon they encounter when visiting Texas is nothing new to them.
“I [love] how in North Carolina, they spent millions of dollars to deny me the right to file joint income tax returns with [my husband] Tim, and then the Supreme Court says, ‘Yes, they can’ — federally, if not with the state,” Gold says. It’s a little bit of poetic justice.
To the general public, Gold and his business partner Bob Williams are best known as designers of high-end but uber-comfy fashion furnishings, but in the gay blogosphere, Gold is just as popular for his vocal opinions about gay rights (especially support for gay youth) and his involvement in political causes. Indeed, neither of them shirk from including a dose of the gay in their luxe showrooms.
Case in point: Their Uptown store has an oversized print of Bette Midler singing live … at the Continental Baths. (“Most people don’t even realize it, until you notice the [audience member] wearing only a towel,” Gold says.)
Like Kenneth Cole, Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams has a corporate identity that does shy away from their embrace of humanity — and that includes gay people. It also included everyone’s backsides.
“Ever since we started in 1989, we have been known for comfort,” Gold explains during a visit to North Texas to open his new showroom in Plano. “I think people today want more comfort. They tend to think much differently about furniture than they used to.”
Gold attributes some of that to reality shows like Project Runway; like the apparel industry, the furniture business follows seasons. The new fall collection of Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams — who they describe as “a little more glamorous, a little dressier,” with hints of Calvin Klein and Christian Dior in the finishes — was just released. And as with clothing, it tweaks the conventions and styles for something new.
“Some stores have new things every week or every month — we don’t do that,” Gold says. “A lot of our customers come in the fall to see what’s new … and maybe pick up some pieces.” They’ll do it all over again in February for the spring collection.
Certainly that’s been the case with the new Plano store, which had a soft opening in August prior to its grand opening earlier this month. Already, the owners have been impressed by the traffic they have received from Metroplex suburbanites.
“Normally a new store takes a few months [to catch on], but it has been a hit right out of the box,” Gold says.
“I think they like not having to drive to Dallas [to check us out].”
It may be because the brand’s reputation precedes it. Whenever they open a new showroom (the Plano branch is the third in Texas; earlier this summer, a Houston location opened in the Highland Village area),
Gold and Mitchell fly newcomers to the company to the factory in North Carolina for Comfort College to teach them “the DNA of the company — not just how the furniture is put together, but marketing, what style sense to put forward with each season,” and how to deal with customers. “There’s a real discipline that comes with keeping the great experience of shopping with us.”
And with the owners committed to gay rights, it’s an experience that pays dividends in more ways than one.
Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams is now open at The Shops at Willow Bend, Plano.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 20, 2013.