Atkinson’s Celebrates 30

Handcrafted headquarters.

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A quick online search turns up two preferable gift categories for 30th-anniversary celebrations: pearl (traditional) or diamond (modern). It is likely, given the breadth of its inventory, that Atkinson’s carries a variety of items that fit those descriptions, or variations thereof. They are, after all, purveyors of all things fine.

“Our range is very hard to explain,” admits John Atkinson, half of the store’s namesake (his wife Diane is the other). Looking around the manor-like retail space, it’s clear what he means. A room to the front houses sculpted crystal and glass from the likes of Baccarat, Daum, and Lalique; around the register you’ll find Floris and Penhaligon’s; in a cubby nearby, a safari’s worth of plush animals and a case of technicolour Faber-Castell pencil crayons conjures nostalgia, standing to lure in children of all ages. Towards the back of the main floor, linens, towels, and cashmere tease the tactile-inclined.

Whatever you’re looking for, for whatever occasion, Atkinson’s probably carries it. “If you come in and you have a gift you have to buy, we can give you at least three or four alternatives,” says John. The founding family and the staff know each object, each line, each conception story inside out, and pride themselves on quality and reputation.

Heading upstairs, things start to get playful. A handmade chess set by Ercolano is followed by a felt wall clock by Leff Amsterdam. Arrive then at the hardware: porcelain, hand painted, hand applied, and “burnished with onyx”. Plates by Hermès, Versace, and Hering Berlin are displayed alongside the Herend Rothschild Bird china. John is quick to relay the remarkable story behind the Rothschild design: the Baroness had lost her necklace and it was found by a gardener, who spotted birds playing with it in a tree. One purchase, forever a great dinner party opener.

The growing success of Danny Atkinson’s Parched Penguin project has brought many an enthusiastic drinker to his parents’ brick-and-mortar location as well. “Our collection is becoming a lot more contemporary. It’s very West Coast–driven, very practical,” he explains. John is well-versed in the art of libations too; he will not hesitate to break out the champagne sabres. “First, buy for what you’re drinking,” he recommends. “Then, it’s got to have a mouth-friendly edge. Then, it’s got to have balance in the hand, and yes, you want it to look good. A sharp edge, or too fat an edge—you’ll pick it up and it doesn’t feel as good. You want to pick it up and go ‘Ahhhh’. And we can reverse-engrave initials on the bottom.”

However things may appear, Atkinson’s stuff is not stuffy, and you’d be hard-pressed to find proprietors more invested in their customer’s satisfaction, because it’s theirs too. “We started with 800 square feet,” says John. “And then we doubled. And then we had 2,000. Finally Diane said, ‘You put this under one roof, or I quit.’” Here’s to 30 more.

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December 1, 2014