Zarin Fabrics, the Lower East Side institution, began in New York in 1936 with founder Harry Zarin’s Orchard Street pushcart. More recently, the company experienced a stint in the public eye when Harry’s son Bobby Zarin and his wife, Jill, starred in The Real Housewives of New York City. Through the years, Zarin has been a distinctly family-centric operation. It offers more than 2,500 fabrics on display, with another 10,000 in the showroom, and is now providing home furnishings, gifts and accessories, including work crafted by independent artisans and artists. Today, on the eve of the company’s 80th anniversary, Zarin’s president, Harry’s grandson David Zarin, chats with EAL about how far the company has come, and where it’s headed next.
To what do you attribute the store’s success?
Zarin Fabrics is successful due to a combination of many factors. Primarily, we offer a large selection of fabrics that are in stock and available to carry out of the store the same day. Many of our fabrics are current designs that we purchase directly from the mill. Unlike the fabric showrooms, we cut out the middlemen and are able to offer designer fabrics at moderate price points for clients who would like to work with a limited budget.
Also, we are a one-stop shop. When you shop with us, you can pick out fabric for your job, as well as get all of the hardware, and have us take care of all the window treatments and upholstery. We also have a showroom filled with furniture and home decor items.
The Zarin family and the people who work here are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, and this resonates with our customers in so many ways. It makes customer service come naturally, and it makes our designer clients’ lives a lot easier.
How do you continue to embody Harry's original mission?
Harry’s original mission was to put food on the plate for his family! While he didn’t have a formal mission, it came naturally to him that he should offer great customer service, fabric at a reasonable price, and a great finished product to keep customers coming back to shop with him. As the business grew from being just Harry and a helper, to what we are today, these core values became a part of the culture at Zarin Fabrics. As the market changes, we make adjustments to our offerings, but we never stray from ensuring that our customers’ experience remains the same as when Harry built Zarin Fabrics.
What are some of the ways you’ll celebrate the anniversary this year? Can you share any of the upcoming collaborations?
For our 80th anniversary, Zarin Fabrics is offering branded fabric for the first time and has collaborated with Robert Allen @ Home to become the exclusive NYC retailer of the Madcap Cottage line of fabrics designed by Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke. As fall approaches, look out for more exciting partnerships like the one with Robert Allen, as well as 80th anniversary sales and events.
Are there any services designers might be interested in at Zarin Fabrics that they might not be aware of?
Zarin Fabrics knows that the life of an interior designer is very busy and their days are filled with running all over town and beyond. For the designer who needs something quickly or has a client who is on a budget, Zarin Fabrics should be the first stop, because it will likely be the last. Not only do we have one of the largest selections of fabrics in NYC, but we also have 80 years of experience with custom fabrication of all kinds of window treatments and upholstery services. You pick out the fabric and design, and leave the rest in our hands, from measuring to fabrication and installation. Of course, we also offer the ubiquitous designer discount.