Sunday, August 12, 2012

CHANGING THE FURNITURE IN LINCOLN'S BEDROOM


We spent today quietly renovating our First Avenue space, which is our pastry kitchen and also the experimental retail space that launched Birdbath Green Bakery. We first moved into 223 First Avenue [13th Street] in the fall of 2005, with a plan to try selling pastry from a tiny storefront we built ourselves from green building materials. We didn't call it City Bakery, and for that matter, didn't call it anything. The idea was to lay low just enough so that people would focus on the environmental materials we were excited about. As it happened, the eco-friendly storefront registered in a big way with customers, the design community, the baking business and the environmental community. About a month into business, we still had no name, but we had a new bakery business with early momentum and great word of mouth. Media coverage extended from New York to Canada to Greece to Australia. 

It is now seven years later, but opening that bakery feels like five minutes ago. Time, it plays tricks. 

Besides being green, the design of that store might best be described as threadbare. One table, three small shelves, a vintage Swedish light fixture and a ceramic peacock. So little to it, yet it proved the perfect retail environment. We did curiously well the first year, even better the second year, and strangely kept growing the third year. 

That was when I decided that that place was functionally perfect and should never be changed. I've thought of it as Lincoln's childhood bedroom for years - a room with a history that exists in immovable form like a museum piece - as it travels through time. 

Maybe it was the summer heat, maybe just a mood, but roughly two weeks ago, I had a sudden urge to switch it all up. With all due respect to Honest Abe and the bedroom of his youth, we've now moved on from our own original Birdbath homestead with some subtle changes that will be unveiled tomorrow morning. The peacock, however, remains in place. 

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