"We call it 'the invisible store,' " said Luke Ives Pontifell, founder of Thornwillow Press, the bespoke stationer now in bed, figuratively, with the St. Regis Hotel in New York. Mr. Ives Pontifell was referring to the new stand-alone Thornwillow at the St. Regis shop, a wainscotted drawing room showcasing the company's engraved wares and leather-bound books. "There's no cash register, no counter--it's more like being inside someone's home."
This hotel stand-alone...isn't alone. A new trend in the hospitality world, a growing number of boutique and luxury inns are making over their bland lobby gift shops and replacing their random hotel-logo inventory with items of distinction, from designer label accessories and housewares to one-of-a-kind jewelry and crafts. Others are all-out replacing their gift shops with designer brand franchises (Opening Ceremony, Thornwillow).