Keith Johnson, Anthropologie's buyer-at-large, is about to take us all along for the ride through his new show, "Man Shops Globe," which is set to debut on the Sundance Channel, Wednesday, October 7 at 10 pm.
At his premiere party in the Rockefeller Center, NYC Anthropologie store, Johnson gave us a quick preview and some well-tested shopping tips.
StyleList: Shopping for a living is a dream assignment for many -- what are the hazards of the job?
Keith Johnson: If you make a mistake when you're a tourist and come back with one trinket that you regret, you can re-gift it. We now have 130 stores, so I could get myself into deep, deep trouble.
SL: How do you cope with your mistakes?
KJ: Thankfully, there's something known as mark-downs, so I don't have to look at my mistakes for too long. There's a heartbreak to falling in love with something in a field in France, in a souk in Turkey or a temple in India that will look really silly in someone's living room. I still do bring some crazy things home.
SL: Tell us about one ...
KJ: About 10 years ago, I bought a giant bottle of champagne. It's about 10 feet tall and you can actually go into it. It was an advertising thing from the 1930s. I bought it from a warehouse in England from some guy who got it 30 years before and he didn't know what to do with it. I thought it was just the greatest thing. And I still think it's great, but not for the stores -- they just don't know what to do with it. It's still sitting in our warehouse.
SL: When I was in Morocco about 10 years ago, I saw this great silver hand of Fatima door knocker. I asked how much it was. The merchant told me $4; I offered $3. He said no, and I walked away. He didn't call after me, and to this day, I regret not buying it. How should I have handled it?
KJ: Bargaining is great, but you have to make up your mind before you start -- is this worth $4 to me? $3? Make up your mind what you're going to pay and don't leave it there. You're going to go home and it's going to be the most painful thing. Decide what you're going to pay and take the emotions out of it. It's not about the emotions, it's about going home with something that you want.
SL: What's your "something?"
KJ: I hate to say it, but it's this lamp. (He gestured to an enormous floor lamp with three Medusa-like heads on it.) I'm also very tempted to buy that lamp (he said, pointing to a smaller, multi-headed wall lamp with a yellow base). I'm envisioning it over my bed as the ultimate reading lamp. I love it.
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