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British retailer The White Company offers paler shade of home goods, apparel in 2nd US store |

British retailer The White Company offers paler shade of home goods, apparel in 2nd US store






The White Company opens the second US store – and first in Jersey – at The Mall at Short Hills.
Anne-Marie Caruso/

For Chrissie Rucker, white has proven to be the color of money.

Rucker is the founder of The White Company, a British home goods and apparel company that is opening its second U.S. store at in northern New Jersey. Rucker has built her idea for a company that sold linens and bedding in a single shade – white – into a lifestyle brand with over 50 stores in the United Kingdom and sales there of more than 200 million pounds ($262.3 million in dollars).

She’s been called the British Martha Stewart for her design influence and business smarts, and in 2010 Queen Elizabeth bestowed on her the title of Member of the British Empire. 

Now, Rucker is looking to expand the brand in this country. She launched online sales in the United States two years ago and opened her first U.S store in the Flatiron district of Manhattan in June.

Strong U.S response

When the company began selling online in the United States, “we saw some very similar buying patterns in America and London,” said Rucker, who was at the Short Hills, N.J., store Wednesday evening for a preview party. The store opened to the public on Thursday.

The online response to its products “gave us the confidence” to try retail stores in this country, she said. She plans to takes things slowly as she expands in this country. As a private company, she said, she doesn’t have to show rapid growth to keep investors happy.

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The White Company began in 1994 as a mail-order business, after Rucker decorated the flat of her then-boyfriend (now husband) with an all-white color scheme. Her sister decorated her home the same way and “we were talking and we said wouldn’t it be great if there was a store that sold just white things,” Rucker said.

She started out selling sheets, covers, pillows, and other items for the linen closet, and has since expanded to include a wide range of lifestyle products, including home décor items such as candles, dinnerware, and clothing. The company also has a children’s division called The Little White Company.

The company has added a good amount of non-white merchandise to its inventory, but the non-white items still tend to be monochromatic shades of black, grey, and silver.  No patterns or bright pastels.

Sensory stores

Retailers in the United Kingdom, Rucker said, are having the same debate as their U.S. counterparts about the future of brick-and-mortar stores, but she has found that having physical stores have helped her grow her brand. Shoppers like to see and feel the merchandise in person, rather than simply view it online.

She also believes the store needs to be a sensory experience for shoppers. “We try to make the stores very calm and soothing,” she said. “Women have said to me ‘It’s so lovely and calm and it smells so lovely here that when I’m having a bad day at the office I come to the stores to feel calm.’ ”

Rucker, a mother of four in her 40s, was dressed in all black at the preview party, in her company’s White Label Tie Neck Dress ($250) rather than her signature white. She noted that the store had a number of black evening outfits on display, including a black jumpsuit, and said the color works for holiday parties. And she acknowledged that black may be a better color than white when one is traveling, particularly in New York and New Jersey.


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