01/16/2012 08:52 am ET

Crate & Barrel's Founders On They Got Started

FORTUNE -- Crate & Barrel founders Gordon and Carole Segal, both 73, raised $17,000 to open their first store in Chicago in 1962. Their concept of offering chic, contemporary designs at affordable prices became a company with 115 stores and $1.4 billion in sales. Now owned by the Otto Group, which is based in Hamburg and owns retail and financial services firms, the company is ranked No. 3 behind Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY, Fortune 500) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) (see chart) in the home-furnishings retailing industry. As for the Segals, it's the end of an era. In 2012, Gordon will step down as a director. Fortune talked with Gordon and Carole about the company they created and why they finally decided to call it a day. Edited excerpts: