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With today’s consumer looking more toward the sustainability of the products they purchase, there is more to designing a luxury space than the beauty of the pieces. Clients want to know where their furnishings come from, how they’re made and even their global impact. 

“Our parents grew up in a world with 3.5 billion people, and we’re living in a world of 7 billion,” says Shannon Ggem, a whole-home remodel and full-furnish specialist in Los Angeles specializing in bringing quality older homes up to date in flow, function and style. “We just can’t keep throwing everything away. We have to start using some of these things and we have to allow the craftsmanship and work of the past to be utilized for longer than intended.” 

While the home furnishings industry has largely been chasing younger consumers with cheap, disposable furniture, she says, “I don’t think Millennials want throw-away. I think they want quality because they’ve had their recession. They watched their parents go through it and it concerns them that you could suddenly not have the means to make purchases. My Millennial clients are adopting better things, even if they are buying vintage and then painting the piece.”

Given that antiques are perhaps the ultimate renewable furniture resource, growing interest in vintage and antique pieces may be a direct response to “this sort of throw-away culture where things don’t have any meaning and we say, “‘Oh, you broke that? Let’s go get another one,’” remarks Helen Rutledge, a marketing specialist and former development director of the Historic Charleston Foundation, who opened Bibelot, a shop devoted to rare artifacts, antiques and treasured, artisan-quality furnishings from around the world this past summer in Mount Pleasant, SC.


If ever a business positively reflected the town it’s in, it is the Tomato Factory Antique & Design Center.

Much like Hopewell — a charming old town that lends itself to modern tastes — the half-century old establishment at 2 Somerset St. mixes classic tradition with modern hipness, and an eclectic variety of items to choose from.

“This place has history, this town has got a reputation with its restaurants and the people here are appreciative of the good quality we supply and offer here,” said Donna Rago, who runs the European & Antiques Center with her husband, Tom. “The variety is amazing. What every dealer brings here is fantastic.”

When it was suggested that it seemed there are tens of thousands of different items on sale, owner Mary Ann Browning said, “At least.” From paintings to furniture, books to magazines, jewelry to knick-knacks, The Tomato Factory is a virtual nirvana for those wishing to spend hours browsing. The downstairs features traditional antiques, while the upstairs, which is operated by the Umbrella Company, deals with more modern items.

The driving force behind it all is Browning, who is 85 going on 35. As charming and elegant a woman as there is, she answers her cell phone “Browning!” like  some grizzled foreman on the back of a loading dock.

But her sophistication belies that greeting, and her ability to adapt to the times is uncanny.

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Courtesy of NJ.COM


The Tomato Factory is set up like an old-fashioned warehouse, with pieces on display everywhere. Vendors rent spaces inside. 

If you like to shop or browse, visit the Tomato Factory in Hopewell — and plan to spend a few hours. Here you’ll find 18 vendors under one roof selling an eclectic mix of antiques, furniture, lighting, glassware, textiles, jewelry, clothing, fine art, primitives — and just about everything else. 

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brick and magic

Please welcome Mary Beschen, Lexi Logan and their new shop at Tomato Factory called brick and magic! Come check it out, an educated mix, with a true desire to repurpose, retreasure, a collection of eclectic finds to explore.

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