Women of a certain age who have lived in Essex County for a certain amount of time are likely to remember Fabulous Wallcoverings — an amazing store that existed in one of the Edison factory buildings in West Orange. Unlike other wallpaper stores, Fabulous had bins and bins of wallpaper rolls in stock — about 14,000 patterns at any time — at major discounts. You could literally walk in, pick out your pattern, go home and put it on the wall. Most rolls cost $9.95.
You had to ascend a very long staircase to get to the second-floor establishment, and it could be tough if you had a toddler in tow — but it was worth it.
That Fabulous has been gone since 2007, victim of a downtown redevelopment project that stalled in 2009. (The project appears to be happening again.) They relocated to an office building next to 4Sixty6 Lounge on Prospect Ave. in West Orange, where they still provide the services they always did — wallcoverings, window treatments and upholstery — but without the ready-to-purchase rolls.
Customers of the old Fabulous are almost always disappointed to find that the wallpaper-to-go feature of the store is no longer there. “We hear it just about every day,” says longtime employee Jeff Fischman. “Some people are annoyed.”
Roy Shapiro (below), the owner of Fabulous, is a third-generation wallpaper man. His father started the store and his grandfather was a wallpaper hanger.
But the family wallpaper business has fallen on hard times. “People come in and borrow the books, and then they go and buy it online,” says Fischman. That despite the fact that Fabulous offers a 25 percent discount. Online discounts usually run to 40 percent.
Another assault comes from real estate agents, who tend to be horrified at the idea of anything as idiosyncratic as wallpaper in their clients’ houses. One realtor friend of mine, hearing that I was considering wallpaper a few years ago — and mind you, I had and have no plans to put my house on the market — was aghast at the idea.
“When they stage a home, they want everything to be as impersonal as possible,” says Shapiro. Something tells me that my pumpkin-hued walls won’t pass realtor snuff when the time comes.
Still, if you see your home as a nest to feather, rather than an investment to be kept as liquid as possible, wallpaper still exists, and authentically local places like Fabulous specialize in customer service. Ditto with window treatments. Fischman himself personally measures windows to make sure you get a good fit, and Fabulous does lots of window seats as well.
Inset is of my powder room, covered in a Fabulous Wallcoverings off-the-shelf paper from long ago.
470 Prospect Ave., West Orange (across from Essex Green)