Keith Johnson has the job everyone wants. He travels the world for the American retailer Anthropologie, buying beautiful antiques, art, decor and textiles for the stores to sell or use as display. He also commissions original pieces or finds the perfect one-of-a-kind for the company to knock off. Keith travels half the year, scouring antique fairs, flea markets, artists' ateliers, tiny shops, museums and factories.
Anthropologie if you don't know it, sells a fantastic and very unique mix of clothing, housewares, tableware, books, jewelry, fashion accessories, linens, art and crafts. At last count, they had 120 U.S. stores open; they're now expanding outside the U.S., beginning with a 10,000-square-foot London store opening tomorrow (Friday) at 158 Regent St. (anthropologie.com or anthropologie.co.uk).
And Keith is now the subject of his own TV show, called Man Shops Globe. It's on the Sundance Channel and it's great fun. In Episode #1, he runs around Paris, a large antiques fair in Avignon and the shops of Isle sur la Sorgue. He also visits with painter Aurelie Alvarez, who lives and works near Avignon, and he buys three of her pretty canvases.
The first episode of Man Shops Globe also introduced us to Michel Barma (abilisexport.com), Keith's agent in France, who lives and works in St. Remy and accompanies Keith on shopping forays to help with sourcing, negotiating, buying, and the complicated process of getting the merchandise to the Anthropologie warehouses.
In each half-hour program, Keith will travel to a new country such as Holland, India or Turkey. Michel and his wife Gabrielle will appear in a future episode, which takes Keith to Tunisia (where the glassware above was photographed).
For video clips of the show, go here:
In conjunction with the show, Sundance is staging a contest with a shopping trip for two to France as the grand prize. To enter:
If you'd like to know more about Anthropologie, the magazine Fast Company did a terrific article a few years back. You can read it here: