Back in the '60s, a young Chicago couple by the name of Gordon and Carole Segal had just returned from a honeymoon in Europe. One night, while washing their dishes after dinner, they lamented there was no place at home to buy the contemporary, affordable housewares they had admired throughout their travels.
Passionate to make these designs available to others, the Segals hired one employee and leased an abandoned elevator factory on Chicago's Wells Street. They traveled throughout Europe buying directly from glassblowers and ceramicists, from factories making beautiful French copper pots and simple white bistro dinnerware. With no money left for displays, they stacked the shipping crates as shelves and filled the overseas barrels with fun merchandise. So out of necessity came the unique Crate and Barrel style…and name. And on a cold December day in 1962, just moments before the official opening, Gordon and Carole realized they had forgotten just one thing–a cash register (no kidding).
A lot has changed since that first store opened. Instead of the one employee we had in 1962, we now have 7,500. Instead of one small storefront, we now have 160 spectacular stores in markets across the US.