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The Tables Are Turning

Julie Gaines tells us her and her husband's tales of trekking cross-country in search of tableware, entering the international market-and holding their own against Macy's.

Vital Stats: Julie Gaines, 37, and David Lenovitz, 41, of New York City-based Fishs Eddy

Company: Retailer of tabletop settings and commercial china started in 1987

2000 Sales: More than $4 million

Us vs. Them: "Macy's knocked off our [212/New York] Skyline pattern, so we had our own little in-house campaign-'Fishs Eddy: where Macy's shops for ideas.' When Restoration Hardware started expanding, we got nervous, went back to the drawing board and put blinders on. We don't start [by] looking at what they're doing. We immediately stop looking at what they're doing."

Globalization: "[Thanks to] travel guides, people visit [our stores] from all over the world, and we ship all over the world. We're trying to expand to San Francisco, and [expansion to] other major cities is likely. Down the line, I could see us selling our line in other stores." Even Macy's? "Yeah (laughter). We're not bitter-we see it as a compliment. Plus, I think we've made a market in the tabletop industry in our own way."

Excessive Hype: "We don't pay much attention to [all the press we get]. It's a nice way to get the word out, but it doesn't dictate where we're going. We really listen to customers, and people still want everyday stuff."

Where to Find Commercial China: "America is so picked over right now that we just go to our secret places in the Midwest-places that aren't accessible by any mode of transportation other than a military jeep . . . or at least an SUV."


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This article was originally published in the June 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Tables Are Turning.

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