It is unlikely Meg Carroll realized when she opened a store with her college roommate selling brass beds and Amish quilts that the business would evolve into one of the premier sources for fine bedding in Chicagoland.
Bedside Manor, with locations in Winnetka, Lake Forest, Hinsdale and Chicago, is celebrating its 32nd anniversary this year. Run by husband and wife team Meg and Michael Carroll, Bedside Manor is no ordinary bedroom and bathroom store.
Take the Winnetka boutique, located at 920 Green Bay Road: The displays throughout the store are evidence of just how fashionable, yet luxuriously comfortable, a bedroom can be in a home. “We try to give a good representation for our clients of what we can do,” Meg explained, as she pointed out designers on display. The store carries more than 70 lines that come from all over the world.
Bedside Manor is known for its creative layering of linens, furniture and decorative elements that can’t be found anywhere else.
“Our identity is about mixing things up,” Meg said. For instance, the bedroom displays are never simply from one brand, but a unique arrangement of items from different vendors.
But each boutique is more than just a place to pick up bedding or towels; rather each store offers design advice on how to put together a bedroom or bathroom. “That is the service that we offer. That is what we love. It connects us to the community,” Meg explained.
Each of the locations is slightly different depending upon the tastes of the community — for example, Winnetka trends more contemporary, while Lake Forest tends to be preppy. The Carrolls relish getting to know their clientele, many of whom they’ve worked for years. “Being located where we are, we are established in our communities. People look to us for design advice,” Meg said.
Over the past three-plus decades, the Carrolls have worked hard to develop strong relationships with approximately 50 vendors. For example, they’ve been carrying the luxury French bedding line from Yves Delorme since the first store opened. Those relationships allow Bedside Manor to provide quick turnarounds on special orders and offer exclusive bedding. Bedside Manor even offers its own private label down comforters and embroidered sheets. “A good set of sheets is like a great white blouse,” Meg remarked.
Growing up in Kenilworth, Meg has worked in the retail industry since she was 16 years old. “I have retail in my blood,” she said. She was a buyer for Carson’s, and she jumped at the opportunity to open her own store in 1985. At that time luxury European linen companies were just starting to break into the U.S. market. When Michael joined the business a few years later, the couple decided to expand throughout Chicagoland.
And Bedside Manor is truly a family run business. Recently, their daughter Annie joined the company after working for one of their vendors in New York.
“I am really excited. It has been a great learning process. I wear a lot of different hats,” she said. Annie is focusing on the company’s website, updating it to become the “fifth store” that will broaden their reach beyond Chicago. Meg and Michael are thrilled that their oldest daughter — they raised their three children in neighboring Wilmette — has decided to join the business. Michael noted that coming out of the industry, Annie brings a lot of knowledge and is a real asset to the business. “It has been a good fit,” he said.
While Bedside Manor is a family run business, over the years the Carrolls have come to appreciate the relationships they’ve developed. “The connection to the communities has been our family. There has been an integration of our work and our home,” Meg said.
To learn more about Bedside Manor and its four locations, go to www.shopbedside.com.