Owner of new Open Home store says she tests what she sells

Mary Schulte says she tries everything she sells because she wants to be able to tell customers how to use things.
Mary Schulte says she tries everything she sells because she wants to be able to tell customers how to use things.

Designer Mary Schulte heads to markets in New York and Atlanta to check out the latest trends. But then she searches the country — and sometimes the world — for vendors who will provide the best product, packaging and price.

“I might love the packaging but didn’t like the scent. Or it smelled great, but it wasn’t at a good price point,” she said. “I want things at a price range so people can make their home beautiful or give a heartfelt gift. It’s important to me.”

Schulte started Open Home as a holiday pop-up in the 45th Street antique district. It opened in mid-December at 1710 W. 45th St. and ran through Christmas Eve. Then she shut it down and restocked for a late-February opening as a permanent tenant.

It now carries a variety of home decor and gift items.

Feathered African headdresses that, once they are opened, make for eye-catching wall art. Fair Trade tiger, bunny and ladybug baby booties (she may soon carry adult versions) from Nepal. Handcrafted jewelry from Rebel Designs in New York made from leather, metal, semiprecious stones and Swarovski crystals, and stackable 14-karat gold beaded bracelets with Greek crosses, gemstones or lockets from Enewton.

Vintage Letter Napkins, a set of four for $48, feature letters of advice from such notable authors as Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens.

“They spark conversation,” Schulte said.

She’s on her sixth reorder of Turkish towels — absorbent, woven patterned towels that are more decorative than typical versions. She takes them as wraps on vacations, but one friend had them monogrammed as a housewarming gift.

The shop sells cashmere ponchos in assorted colors that Schulte also owns and carries “wherever I go, on an airplane it is fantastic.”

Framed 150-piece jigsaw puzzles featuring a single letter would make a perfect graduation present, she said. One customer purchased several to spell out “Mr & Mrs” for a wedding gift.

Schulte pulled a charcoal-colored piece of Portuguese pottery off a shelf.

“Just put some oil on it, some asparagus and seasoning, stick it in the oven, broil it for a few minutes for crispy, beautiful asparagus, my favorite now, and put it on the table,” she said. “You can even cook fish or vegetables in it on the grill. I try everything because I want to be able to tell them how to use it.”

Open Home also carries Christen Maxwell cork and metallic faux leather cosmetic bags, as well as the designer’s canvas and burlap totes with a “racing stripe” of metallic faux leather; barware including wood flasks from Viski; and bath and body products from Spinster Sisters Co. in Golden, Colo.

The shop also has its own signature candle scents: Hearth, Home and Spa Day.

“I do love the things I sell. That’s why I buy them,” Schulte said.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC