Annie Selke launched a retail store and bed-and-breakfast in downtown Lenox, Massachusetts Tuesday. WAMC and the global, Pittsfield-based textiles company founder and CEO toured her new inn.
“We are sitting in the Stockbridge room at 33 Main,” Selke says, “my new luxury inn.”
The bed-and-breakfast boutique has eight rooms, all named after Berkshire towns and notables.
“Glendale, another Berkshire town. So we have Stockbridge, Glendale; there is the High Lawn room, you know, the High Lawn Farm, which is a favorite of mine when I drive by,” Selke says. “Sunny Home is that room, and it’s called Sunny Home because that was one of the names of this house in its earlier days.”
The bedding, that’s Annie Selke’s. The rugs: also hers. The amenities in the bathrooms, the curtains in the bedrooms, the drapes in the living room, the placemats in the kitchen and the floor rugs that run up and down the hardwood floors in the halls are Selke’s, too.
“I have always had this sort of bucket-list desire to have an inn or decorate an inn, and I have probably, oh I can’t even, countless nights in hotels around the world and I spend probably about 170 nights a year not at home,” Selke says, “and so I have opinions about places to sleep other than your own home.”
The Stockbridge native fluffs the giant white plushy pillow on the couch. As a mother, she says it’s habit.
“I started it as a party of one when my daughter was 1 year old and that was back in 1994,” Selke says.
And now Selke employs 196. Her company has more than 4,000 retail customers around the country – not to mention all of the direct sales.
The inn was built in the 1830s but was modernized by the previous owner, Austen Riggs. Selke pulled the trigger on purchasing the building in December, and closed in March.
“It was in good shape but we re-wallpapered everything, all the fabrics, curtains are new, furniture is new, lighting. We did some structural stuff, minor structural stuff to make sure the beds could fit – you know, to make sure the king-sized beds could fit, and then we did all off the bathrooms. So if you look at the bathroom,” Selke says.
Pristine tile and minimalist. Some bathrooms have large deep bathtubs, others glass-enclosed showers. Two of the bedrooms are pet-friendly.
Reviews from early visitors seemed positive.
She points across the street to the store, adjacent to the Lenox Chamber of Commerce’s new headquarters.
“I kept looking across the street and there was an empty space,” Selke says. “It used to be Peter Alvarez’s salon. So, I thought ‘that might be a nice place for a store.’ And then I thought my Chief Operating Officer would say ‘I think we have already bitten off a lot,’ so I kept it to myself. And then I was in a meeting at work and he said ‘We really should open up a store across the street.’ I was like ‘OK, done.’ Done, like, had the lease signed in three hours, practically.”
The storefront sells furniture, bedding, jewelry, storage and décor. Some items are from Selke’s branded Pine Cone Hill and Dash & Albert Rug Co. products listed in her bimonthly, nationally circulated catalog, which launched last fall. Products at the inn, like mattresses from Hastens and tile from The Tile Shop, will also be available for purchase.
“I think brick-and-motor retail is shifting and changing dramatically, you know, with the advent of the internet. The way people interact with product really needs to be more interesting, more engaging, more in-depth and that’s really, this is creating a brand immersion,” Selke says.
Selke says she puts her heart and soul into every project, but…
“I have sort of resisted retail myself like it’s the plague,” Selke says.
Selke closed her first retail venture in the Lenox Commons in 2009 after a six-year run. The good news…
“I don’t have huge expectations,” Selke says. “I think it’s really difficult going into it and saying, ‘Oh, it has to do this, this and this. What’s it going to be?’ It’s not like I am trying to, you know, like I am trying to more a whole line of hospitality inns around the country. It’s not my mission; it could lead to that; who knows – you know, with the success of this?”
The retail store is open through November.
“We are testing it,” Selke says. “We are calling it a pop-up.”
Selke plans to extend her lease if the store does well.
Rates at the inn start at $330 a night.