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Image: Sarah Rufca

There are two kinds of stores in this world: The kind that sell you what you need, and the kind that convince you to buy things you never knew you needed. (A few stores manage to accomplish both, which explains why it's nigh impossible to get out of Target without spending $100.)

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Image: Sarah Rufca

Merchant & Market, which opened among the thrift shops along lower Westheimer in November, is unapologetically, gloriously in the second camp. Designer Gino Vian has put his signature vintage-glam-with-a-kitschy-twist stamp on Houston residences as well as bars and restaurants like Corner Table, Skinny Ritas and Liberty Station. Now he's taken his treasure trove of vintage furniture, accessories and curiosities and created a design studio and shop unlike any other in town.

It's the perfect place to find a leather chesterfield sofa in bordello red or a mirror housed in a dramatic oversized mantel, not to mention Greco-Roman style busts, vintage metal signs, antique bread boards and charming light fixtures. It's an even better place to explore even when you think you don't need any of the above—Vian's expert merchandising is designed to enthrall, to bring out the decor possibilities in the most unlikely of objects.

What's that? You didn't know you needed a tiny claw-foot tub to stock champagne in at your dinner parties? How about jugs repurposed as giant vases holding branches of cotton, a dainty rotary phone or vintage luggage? The utility of these objects is questionable, but their aesthetic appeal is undeniable. 

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Image: Sarah Rufca

If any of these fail to take hold of your imagination, there are relatively practical concerns like canvas aprons, delicate necklaces, dreamy sage and sea salt candles, jars full of lavender, and mid-century modern glasses to entice, not to mention Vian's own line of paint. 

This is window shopping par excellence, and Vian and company know better than to let a space this cool go to waste—they've already hosted multiple events in the shop, including a music video shoot on New Year's Eve. Like the objects in-store, Merchant and Market, it would seem, is the shop Montrose never knew it needed.

Merchant and Market, 1367 Westheimer Rd., mrchmrkt.com.

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