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TVFF Field Report: Food Network Store at Chelsea Market Baskets
Sunday, December 16, 2007 | posted by Mike

Not too long ago, we brought you word of the opening of the new Food Network Store, “the first retailer beyond Food Network’s online store to provide physical space and sell Food Network products including DVDs and cookbooks.” The operation, which opened in November, is a partnership between the Network and Chelsea Market Baskets, a gourmet and specialty food business that occupies the space across from Food Network’s office in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market. On a recent trip to New York (yeah, we’re full of those lately!), we had a chance to check out the store and speak with David Porat, the head of Chelsea Market Baskets.

Located in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, Chelsea Market is “a one stop culinary food shop, a gourmet lover's wholesale-retail wonder world, and an energetic, industrial-chic hotspot, all meshed into a million square feet of space, along an historical 800-foot concourse on the most unique city block in Manhattan.” Chelsea Market Baskets, which also includes wholesale and mail-order/web businesses, is located across the main concourse from the Food Network headquarters and features a fully-branded corner of the store devoted to a variety of FN-related merchandise. Expertly arranged and grouped roughly according to chef, the space attracted a number of interested shoppers while I was there.

The biggest and most prominent display was that of Rachael Ray products, including the always-popular garbage bowl. There was also a television that was used to loop one of the many DVDs available at the store. Paula Deen has her own cabinet – suitably Southern and rustic – filled with a variety of products, including her jarred sauces.

The two most common items in the Food Network store are “wearables,” including t-shirts and other apparel, and cookbooks. For many of the chefs, they feature one or two of the most recent cookbooks. The collection is by no means comprehensive…anyone who goes in to a Barnes & Noble or browses Amazon would know that Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee would constitute an entire section themselves.

Mr. Porat said that the idea for the Food Network store came up about six months ago, when he began working with representatives from the Network on the idea. The space opened in November and covers approximately 150 square feet of the store’s layout. According to Porat, the most popular items to date have been the wearable items, including the aprons. The books are also one of the bigger sellers. I asked him if there were any plans to use the space as a location for celebrity books signings. Although nothing is planned at this time, in-person events could be a possibility in the future.

You can check out the photos of the Food Network Store below, and I certainly suggest you swing by if you’re in the area. While checking out the Food Network Store is cool, the rest of Chelsea Market Baskets may be just as big an attraction. Filled with a huge variety of fantastic gourmet imports, ingredients and items, there’s something there for every foodie. How did I know they were carrying quality products? Well, they featured La Colombe coffee, so that was a good sign.

The displays also do a fantastic job of letting you know the story behind the products, such as the shortbread cookies imported from Scotland. And, from talking to Mr. Porat, it looks like there is even more good stuff coming, with planned additions to the retail space and the addition of a new signage and an entryway off of 15th street.

Funny story: About a week and a half after I visited the store, I was at the day job and, as happens this time of year, one of our vendors sent along a holiday gift to my department. It was opened up and put out for everyone, with crackers, nuts, dried fruit and some fantastic Vermont cheddar. Where did the basket come from? You guessed it…Chelsea Market Baskets.



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