Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first Crate and Barrel store on December 7 1962, at age 23. The 1,700-square-foot (160 m2) space in part of an old elevator factory was located on Wells Street in the then-bohemian Old Town neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The inspiration was their honeymoon in Europe, where the Segals became interested in providing functional yet aesthetically pleasing products to young couples just starting out. Surprised to see that Europe had many beautiful and durable products at reasonable prices, they were inspired to start their own store in the United States.
The Segals derived the company name by the materials that they originally used to display items in their Chicago store. The Segals were originally going to call their company “Barrel and Crate”, but a friend suggested that they reverse the order of the words. They turned over the crates and barrels that the merchandise came in, let the wood excelsior spew out, and stacked up the china and glass. This helped emphasize their strongest selling point, that their products were direct imports.