Patrick Bartscherer and Eric Hillegass will welcome the first customers to their home decor shop this weekend.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 24, 2019
As they prepare to open the doors of their Collingswood homegoods boutique for the first time Sunday, Patrick Bartscherer and Eric Hillegass can only describe the moment as “surreal.”
“I didn’t think that we would ever get here,” Hillegass said Thursday, as the couple was putting the finishing touches on its new shop, Bespoke Home + Life.
Their journey from Hell’s Kitchen to 817 Haddon Avenue was chronicled in a recent episode of HGTV’s House Hunters (their third appearance on the show), but the trip Bartscherer and Hillegass are on presently is one of entrepreneurship.
“It’s scary, but exciting, and potentially rewarding,” Hillegass said. “All along the way, this whole time, I’ve relished in the fact that we’re working for ourselves, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do that.”
It’s also been a rocket ride to the finish. Bartscherer, who works in visual design for retailer South Moon Under, just returned from opening a store in Florida to dive into the Bespoke setup. Hillegass has been managing its inventory of live greenery and planters. Together, they’ve supervised the finishing touches on a property that’s changed hands three times in the past five years.
“Hopefully, people get our vision,” Bartscherer said.
“We took basically every aspect of other stores that we like and places we’ve lived and brought it into one concept.”
“And hopefully people see that it’s different,” Hillegass said.
“We wanted to make our version of home décor.”
In the front window, Bartscherer and Hillegass hung a custom neon sign that reads “handmade and homegrown.”
The font is based on Hillegass’ handwriting; a move, he said, that emphasizes the maker-focused intention of the shop.
From its curated selection of houseplants and home accessories to a planned inventory of handmade goods, Bespoke is intended as an experiential retail shop that invites visitors to browse, linger, and create custom projects via in-store classes.
At the entrance to the store, guests are greeted by a verdant moss wall that lends texture and color to first impressions of the space. Just beyond unfolds row upon row of houseplants, like fiddle-leaf figs, Dieffenbachia sterling, and Birds of Paradise. Harder-to-find varietals can be special-ordered.
“We have accessible, easy, low-maintenance plants, and then we have some really bizzare tropical plants,” Hillegass said.
“If customers come in and they’re looking for something specific, I’m more than happy to work with our greenhouses and growers to have it sent up in the next shipment.”
Shelves are lined with planters, vessels, and other home décor.
A cinderblock side wall has been replaced with glass doors to an exterior patio that will house overflow inventory, all of it overlooked by a spotlit mural at the roof’s edge.
“I hope people just want to hang out,” Bartscherer said. “We definitely can appreciate how much people love plants, and we hope that by creating these moments in our store, we can become a part of that buzz.”
It’s taken a while for Bartscherer and Hillegass to get to this point, but they hope that their work will be embraced by the Collingswood community. They’ve staked their future on it, and want it to unfold on a long horizon.
“The question, if we are successful—and this is long-term and very optimistic—is what would be next?” Hillegass said. “In my mind, it’s not to open this business in another town; it’s to open the next business in this town.
“We like it here.”
Bespoke Home + Life will open to the public for the first time Sunday, May 26. Hours are 12 noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and Monday by appointment only.
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