You might well expect a store like MONC XIII, a meticulously curated collection of high-end home furnishings, to be located somewhere in Tribeca. Instead, the 2,400-square-foot emporium, whose stock ranges, price-wise, from a 1940s cerused oak French console for $17,500 to vintage sailing books for $30, opened last April in an 1890 commercial building on Sag Harbor's Madison Street, following a three-year, from-the-ground-up renovation.
Journalist/blogger Cara Greenberg spoke with store owner Natasha Esch, who lives full-time in Sag Harbor with her husband and business partner, Matt Coffin, and their two children, about the new store's first summer season.
Were you satisfied with your first season? Who are your customers?
We had a fantastic first season. The Hamptons is such an international community in summer; we get invaded by people from all over the world. Local decorators come in for pieces, but we've also shipped items as far as Australia. A couple came in and purchased a bunch of things for their home in Sydney.
What do you do differently because you're in Sag Harbor?
I try to pay attention to things that work in a Hamptons context, like bringing in a pair of chairs wrapped in nautical rope ($7,500). They're French Art Deco, but they look like they were in some whaling captain's home.
How are you going to handle the off-season?
We'll definitely be open seven days through Christmas. Then we have to evaluate, but our inclination is to stay open year-round. That is the recipe for success, coming from other people who have businesses in Sag Harbor. Our antiques are also on 1stdibs, and soon all the other items we sell will be available for sale on our website.
Explain the name of the store.
M is for my husband Matt, O is our daughter Orchid, N is for Natasha, and C is for Coffin. The 'thirteen' is our son's birthday, though his name is Sky. I thought a number would be cool.
Tell me the story on this great building.
It was a mixed-use building, apartments on the top floor and two storefronts downstairs. We wanted to create a big open space. On a process level, it would have been easier to tear down and rebuild, but Sag Harbor wouldn't let us do that, so we had to do it wall by wall. It was completely rebuilt, but the exterior façade now looks exactly as it was. Inside, we've added some modern elements, like a sculptural steel staircase. The windows are restoration glass to give it back an Old World feeling. The reclaimed wood and beams give it age. A lot of locals have thanked me, and said they so enjoy walking by the building.
How would you describe your sensibility when it comes to selecting and editing merchandise?
My aesthetic is the same as the building itself. I like to juxtapose old and new, like an antique 18th century commode with mid-century modern. The contrast is what creates an interesting tension and an interesting visual.
What are some of your favorite pieces, especially at a lower price point?
The leather-wrapped gardening shears from a Spanish company named Sol y Luna ($90) are a terrific seller. They're beautiful and functional, and everybody does some gardening when they're here. We also have a great leather-wrapped watering can that can be used as a vase. My husband curates vintage books focused on sailing, boating, and surfing, as well as John Steinbeck and Hemingway. We also have a line of backgammon boards produced in England by the premier maker of leather board games. We even had a backgammon tournament here; it was a fun night.
The shopping must be fun. How and where do you shop?
I shop everywhere, whenever I travel. The majority of things in the store are European. I just got back from the decorative gift show in Paris, and I shop in Turkey, Scandinavia, England. I'm about to go to South America on a buying trip. I get to see all these amazing places. I did interior design for 12 years prior to opening the store, so I get to continue what I was doing before, but with an additional purpose.
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