By Claudie Benjamin
Whether you marvel at a pillowcase’s smooth white crispness or admit you don’t know why, but you do nap more deliciously under an impossibly soft cashmere throw, the point is that some luxuries really do make daily life better.
The store’s interior evokes what you imagine might be (or have been) a visit to shop for a luxury wedding or anniversary gift in pre-WWII Vienna, Brussels, London or Paris or Bucharest.
Schweitzer Linen at 457 Columbus Avenue with two additional East Side locations is celebrating its 50th anniversary. “We are from Eastern Europe, Bucharest, Romania and were involved in linens. We had a family history of being involved in linens and soaps and perfumes pre-1944. When we came to this country, my parents started Schweitzer Linen,” says Robert Schweitzer whose parents founded the business in 1971.
The family’s first store was located on Lexington Avenue. As Robert recalls, “It was a mishmash. We sold tablecloths, film, cigarettes and a whole bunch of giftware because we had bought an existing location and it was a 250 square foot store.
I remember being 14 years old working in that shop and we began phasing out all the ‘gifts’. The first thing to go were the cigarettes then the film and little by little, all the gift products we sold within three or four years were gone and all that remained were the linens.
50 years later we’ve grown to be vertically integrated and print our own fabrics, print our own designs so we control the whole process and we are able to offer the very best at the best pricing.”
A positive aspect of contemporary living is that customers use and enjoy bedding and table linens, luxurious household items and furniture without keeping them protected in rarely opened cupboards or placed in sitting rooms only used when guests arrived. Taste and classy style are foremost at Schweitzer Linen. Some prices can cause you to do a double take. However, many lovely, timeless items are more affordable and there are regular sales.
Schweitzer Linen knows both about the quality of linens and the setting in which they are sold. “Since COVID we haven’t gone anywhere but we used to travel abroad every six weeks and we check antique markets all over the world for inspiration and designs suggested from both new modern things, and very old influences.
We use architecture and antiques and we search for pieces to decorate our catalog and stores and we have quite a collection, but our main business is our linen and lingerie which in our opinion makes a big difference in the quality of life.”
Online sales are an important part of the business and Robert uses social media to promote the business posting short, heartfelt YouTube videos where he shares his thoughts about linens.
But, there’s nothing quite like coming into the store to savor its very special atmosphere and to get guidance from knowledgeable sales staff, learn about the quality of linens and details about how to wash and care for them.
Robert is convincing in his view that beautiful linens make a difference. As he puts it, “Like changing your clothes, changing your home decor helps change your mood. Your taste in your home brings out the best of your individuality”.