In an effort to revamp the “user experience,” furniture and home decor store Elements East has expanded its inventory and added an art gallery-like experience to its 5,200-square-foot space.
The store opened last spring at 191 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward after moving from Whitefish Bay to Shorewood and later to a warehouse in Riverwest, operating with limited hours.
The store on Saturday will debut its “re-envisioned” space and inventory selection.
Since purchasing Elements East in 2017, owner Meg Hopkins has worked to diversify the store’s selection– mainly consisting of large-scale antique furnishings from China– by incorporating items of various countries, styles and price points, and by offering more ways shoppers can learn about and interact with the products, she said.
“The pendulum is swinging from the online shopping craze, which is convenient, but devoid of human or tactile experience, back to an in-person, sensory-rich experience,” Hopkins said. “People are hungry for that and we’re providing it. It’s a trend you’re starting to see nationally and I’m excited to offer it locally.”
The space will now echo more of a Moroccan influence, selling items such as metal lanterns, green ceramic pieces, hand-tiled tables, vintage berber rugs and leather throw pillows that Hopkins purchased during a buying trip to Morocco last fall.
A series of vignettes and images telling the story behind each item and how they were selected will be displayed throughout the store as an art gallery.
Elements East will host events this Saturday, Feb. 23 and next Saturday, March 2 to showcase its transformed space. The events include “traditional Moroccan experiences” such as henna tattoos, which will be available from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“I’m incredibly excited to debut this new iteration of Elements East to the community,” Hopkins said. “We are not only offering the consumer in-person shopping, we have curated an experience for them. We have furniture, home décor and gift items that no other store in the Milwaukee area is carrying, because I didn’t get this inventory off a show room floor. I visited Moroccan craftspeople in their shops, watched them work–some in caverns or tents–and bought directly from them. Everything I’m selling was handmade by someone I met. People are craving authentic, rich encounters, even in their shopping, and it’s exciting to offer such an experience to Milwaukeeans.”