With Style and Quality Goods, Roche Bobois Finds Success in Columbus

Jenny Rogers
Roche Bobois Traveler Collection chair

Isabella Grayfer is inclined to use analogies. When customers ask why they should invest in high-end home furnishings, the stylish, red-bespectacled manager of Roche Bobois says to think of a suit: "Macy's makes suits. But so does Armani," she says. "You put on the Armani suit and you looked 10 inches taller and five inches leaner. And, in 20 years, it will still look good."

Her logic isn't solely about style, of course. It's about quality.

Roche Bobois is a global luxury brand selling products from leather sectionals to abstract printed rugs. Each piece is custom and made in France or Italy, designed by the world's most notable artists and interior designers. Just as with couture fashion, the company creates two collections a year. "And each month," Grayfer says, "I receive a shipment from across the pond."

Though it's become a Short North staple, when Grayfer opened the shop nearly 30 years ago, her first shipment went to Canada by mistake.

"They just couldn't imagine Columbus would have a Roche Bobois store," she laughs. "It was so unexpected for this town."

But the store has done well in Columbus, staying true to its luxury roots despite the fact that we've long been considered a discount city.

"We opened shortly before City Center. There were luxury retailers there, but they left within a few years," Grayfer says. "It's taken a lot to remain in the market … great service, quality goods. It's a different market now. We've grown as Columbus has, but I've never compromised."

The store offers complete design services and consultation, and Grayfer and her team are happy to assist customers unsure of trends, colors and proportion. Although, Grayer notes, most of her customers are educated consumers.

"Our typical customer is well-rounded in travel and style. They come in with knowledge," she says. "They're the city's educated, affluent and influential people."