Tim O’Hearn – French Quarter Linens

An Elegant Night’s Sleep

When I asked Tim O’Hearn to describe his store, French Quarter Linens, his cocktail party response was, “We sell fancy sheets.” But his store is a lot more than basic sheets. Located in the heart of the Pearl District, the store displays fine bedroom and bathroom textiles that Tim hand picks from Italy.

While attending Lewis & Clark College, Tim worked in the men’s suit department at Frederick & Nelson. He then began working as a management trainee and ultimately an apparel buyer for Meier & Frank. Tim knew he wanted to be an expert retailer; so with only a vision and no business plan, he took a chance by opening French Quarter Linens in 1995.

Tim, 52, travels to Italy every year to work directly with suppliers on products for the stores. They offer everything one would need for the bed or bathroom including duvet covers, shams, pillows, mattresses, bath robes, shower curtains, towels, rugs and candles.

It’s a good thing Tim made that risky decision, because it has since evolved into three high-end luxury store in Portland, San Francisco and Beverly Hills. “I was at a life crossroads,” Tim says, “but I knew I should do something that I seemed to have a flair for, so retail and textiles it was.”

What’s the store atmosphere?

The original vision of French Quarter Linens is still true today – show the finest textiles on Earth in an environment that makes customers feel comfortable and gives the products a sense of heritage. We also focus on lighting, scent, music and continually evolving product and in-store merchandising. I always want customers to feel comfortable walking into any of my stores.

Why did you choose Beverly Hills and San Francisco for your new store locations?

San Francisco came into my crosshairs a few years ago as an opportunity to expand. Samuel Scheuer was founded in 1935 by the grandson of the gentleman from whom I purchased the store. It is truly a heritage store and we’re reminded daily of the generations that have shopped there. It has been exciting and rewarding to nurture this institution while at the same time coaxing it into the modern age of retailing and luxury linens. And Beverly Hills is, well, Beverly Hills! We’re a block from Rodeo Drive and I was able to secure the trademark of a defunct luxury brand, Grande Maison de Blanc.

Do the product styles vary depending on the location?

Much of what we do is timeless and pertains to all three markets. San Francisco and Portland are more similar to each other than San Francisco and Beverly Hills, even though they’re in the same state. Lighter, brighter colors sell best in Beverly Hills and more conservative patterns do well in San Francisco. I might dare to divulge that our most sophisticated bedding sells best in Portland.

Any tips for decorating the bedroom?

Choose your bedding first, then your carpet and wall color. Don’t skimp on quality; the most important and intimate hours of our lives are spent in bed and I continue to be mystified at how little emphasis and money most people devote to their beds.

How do you describe your personal interior style?

I wish I had more time to devote to developing one! I like crusty old French things and if there’s marble involved, even better. I like wallpaper, leather, crystal, sterling, fancy table linens and worn Oriental rugs. If it’s new, I probably won’t allow it unless it’s a kitchen appliance!

What do you do for fun outside of work?

My escape and passion are cooking and dining. I also have a partner and a teenage son, so my life is full and spare time is rare!

Any plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of French Quarter Linens?

Yes, 20 years! It seems hard to believe. My San Francisco store is celebrating 80 years next year, so we’re going to be working with the theme of 100 Years and Counting. I’m just back from Portugal where I developed an anniversary towel and anniversary bathrobe. I’m heading back to Italy soon to finalize the anniversary Sheet. Stay tuned!

 

About The Author: Lindsay Gard