For generations, New Yorkers have turned to one store when celebrating life’s most major milestones—weddings and anniversaries, holidays and birthdays, decorating a new house. For 85 years, Scully & Scully has been the place to go.
And for that entire time, it’s been in the same location on Park Avenue. It’s the oldest store still standing on Park Avenue, and over the years it’s expanded so much that it’s now ten times larger than it was just 25 years ago. The store’s inventory, meanwhile, has grown to fill the expanded space. Michael Scully, the store’s owner (and the son of the store’s original founders), estimates it carries 20,000 to 25,000 different items: a high-end selection of china, crystal, jewelry, leather goods, gift items, fine furnishings…the list goes on. He travels the globe to find them, and many of the pieces are exclusive to the store. And if what you’re looking for isn’t included in that enormous inventory, the store is happy to special-order it for you.
That’s just one example of the exquisite customer service on which Scully & Scully prides itself. The store is so popular for wedding registries not just because of its enormous selection of tabletop offerings, but also because of the attentive staff who advise couples on mixing and matching china patterns—which then go on display on two dining tables in the department, each place set with a recently engaged couple’s chosen patterns and labeled with a place card. It’s popular for those (re)decorating a home not just for its incredible wares, but also because it offers full-service interior design, selling goods from the store and also externally sourced pieces as well. Jonathan Tate, the store’s on-staff designer, has done homes from India to Australia.
That service, plus the store’s selection of items—its array of whimsical goods from around the world that you can’t find anywhere else—are what keep drawing the most sophisticated customers to the store year after year. Celebrities, multiple presidents, and a pope have all patronized the store; Mr. Scully declines to name names. He seems to place more value on the longstanding relationships the store has built with generations of clients over the years. “We’ve had the grandparents register, the children register, and now we’re in the third-generation registry,” he says. “It’s often a family connection that brings people in.”
Scully doesn’t see the rise of online shopping, the bane of many other stores, as a threat; Scully & Scully has offered a catalog since its earliest days. “It’s an easier transition for us to the internet than for most brick and mortar stores,” Scully says, “because we were already selling products all over the country, with a picture and description. So it’s not that different.” It helps that most of Scully & Scully’s offerings are unique to the store, and its selection eschews generic crowd-pleasers in favor of items that may appeal to more niche interests. “I think if people come to us,” Scully says, “they don’t want something they can find just any place. It’s very important we have something exclusive or unique or something that stands out.”
Some might say it’s the store for the person who has everything, but Michael Scully takes a slightly different view. “It’s for the people who would like to have everything,” he says with a laugh.