Christmas is all about color, fantasy and nostalgia that hark back to the ’50s at Shelter, which recently ushered in the holiday season with a mini show directed by veteran TV director Fritz Ynfante, and featuring college students from De La Salle University.
The home store on Jupiter Street, Makati City, literally unwrapped its beribboned glass doors to the public, as the event’s featured performers welcomed guests while singing and swaying to such classic tunes as “Pure Imagination,” “My Favorite Things” and “So Long, Farewell.”
Now on its first year, the home store owned by interior designer Ivy Almario, Cynthia Almario, Yong Nieva and their US-based partners Joey Luna and Lee Imperial has brought holiday cheer to Manila in the form of whimsical décor and accent pieces such as miniature Ferris wheels, singing stuffed toys, dolls and box-type faux TV sets featuring Christmas villages from such brands as Kurt S. Adler and Mr. Christmas.
“This is our first Christmas presentation in Manila since we opened Shelter,” said Luna. “It’s just a small store, but we wanted to do something special, which people, including us, haven’t seen before.”
He proposed the idea to his partners over dinner a few months ago. They invited Ynfante to join them, and the director gladly agreed to direct the production.
“So now, we have our own mini version of the Macy’s day parade. And since most Filipinos are very much into song and dance, this presentation is very apt,” said Luna, a Filipino-American.
Chocolate and candies
Apart from select pieces of furniture, Shelter is also brimming with gift items and holiday goodies such as soaps, coffee-table books on interior design, jewelry boxes, dog accessories and Hammond’s chocolates and candies.
Its designer dog area on the second level, which features blankets, baskets and chew toys in various shapes and sizes and embroidered with such “signature” brands as Barkin, Pawda and Jimmy Chew, is bound to bring smiles to everyone, dog lover or not.
Luna and his American business partner Imperial are seasoned furniture discounters operating in Las Vegas. Because of their access to a wide range of American brands, the pair is able to bring in home items that suit almost every style and budget.
When it comes to big-ticket items like furniture pieces, Shelter deals mostly with interior designers. But the store also has a wide following among homeowners. And if they’re willing to wait, Luna and Imperial can order furniture and accent pieces not found in the store for them.
“We’ve been sourcing furniture pieces from the States for interior designers here in Manila,” said Imperial. “What I like about the Philippines is the greater care and emphasis Filipinos put into their homes. Unlike in the US, for instance, where most people stick to neutral colors such as black, white and beige, people here are more adventurous. They’re willing to take more risks in terms of looks and colors.”
And since they’ve been in the business for almost two decades now, they know which US companies have a reputation for selling quality products and shipping them promptly, said Imperial. The brands may be American, but the products are manufactured the world over.
“The real difference our store offers is the quality of the products,” he added, when asked to compare Shelter with other home stores. “Since we’ve been doing this for quite some time now, we’ve vetted all the manufacturers to assure our customers that what they’re getting are the best of what America has to offer.”
As for trends this season, Imperial noticed a preference among not a few American designers to evoke the feel of an “old-fashioned” Christmas circa 1950s. Whether is has something to do with aging baby boomers pining for the warm, comforting feeling associated with Christmases past is anybody’s guess.
“Maybe,” said Imperial. “I’m a boomer. I happen to be one of them.”
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