by Vanessa Machir
“I have a hard time watching TV and relaxing,” confesses Robert Fuller, Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design ’98. “I have to be doing something constructive.” His résumé is proof: During the week, he’s the director of visual merchandising for fragrance and beauty at Chanel, but on weekends, he commutes to his Hudson, New York–based vintage retail gallery, Robert at Home. He also makes furniture from found objects and designs interiors on the side.
This isn’t Fuller’s first time running a retail operation. As a child, he built a mock store out of a cardboard box so neighborhood kids could “shop” for dolls and action figures. Though the store was pretend and no money was exchanged, it helped him realize how much he enjoyed creating experiences. “I’m a very nostalgic person by nature,” he says. “I’m always attracted to carousel horses and gumball machines.” Not surprisingly, his store has a vintage carousel horse available for purchase.
These interests inspired him to look for a retail space in Hudson, a stylish refuge north of New York City and one of his favorite towns for antiquing. In 2017, he settled on a 1,000-square-foot showroom within Door 15, a collective of about 50 antique and vintage vendors. Though the warehouse has a central sales desk, Fuller is on the floor most weekends. “I wear all of the hats,” he says, “and I have fun doing it.”
His store and website are organized by room. For example, in the Canteen (kitchen) section, you’ll find a vintage Coca-Cola sign, and the Sanctuary (bedroom) section offers a 1940s dresser and leather suitcases and trunks. “It shows customers how they can use every piece I sell in their own houses,” he says.
Fuller stocks his store with pieces that “make you feel comforted,” but functionality is also key, as many of his customers are space-poor New Yorkers. Most of his wares are in their original state, but he also sells his own creations—apple-crate ottomans and nightstands made out of old TVs. He estimates 10% to 15% of his sales are driven by his website and social media, and he hopes to be able to offer delivery in the future. Fuller was worried about sales at the beginning of the pandemic, but customers’ heightened focus on their living spaces has fueled growth. Hoping to expand to a second location in the Catskills, he sees home goods as his ultimate calling. “Even if I retired from my industry, I’d still be involved in furniture.”