Evelijn Rijke Owner, Cargo Unlimited

Evelijn Rijke, Owner, Cargo Unlimited, Manchester

Evelijn Rijke, Owner, Cargo Unlimited, Manchester

Evelijn Rijke, who owns Cargo Unlimited in Manchester, says the world of interior design and home products has changed dramatically since her mother, Christina, first opened Cargo as a home décor store in 1977 after moving here from Amsterdam.  Back then, she said, if you wanted a redesign or refresh, you turned to your decorator or designer and made a big change, from top to bottom — new furniture, new drapes and accessories, new rugs and wallpaper and colors.

Today, due to the Internet and availability of product, the formula has changed.  “Life is faster,” Evelijn said, “so clients are more informed and sophisticated about what they want, and home life is more fluid.”

“Several years ago, I started noticing clients from my interior design business began asking for a seasonal consultation instead of going for a big design overhaul every five years,” she said.  “They’d call and ask, ‘Can you come in for a half day or so and bring a fresh eye to my bedroom or dining room?’  Now it’s normal.  I call the service my ‘seasonal refresh’.” And from her 4,500-square foot downtown store, that works just fine.  That kind of spontaneity is almost what she was trained for.  From age 14, Evelijn worked alongside her mother, helping set up inventory systems, refinishing antiques, staging and more.  When she wasn’t at school, she was at flea markets, estate sales and auctions.  Her summers were spent living and exploring abroad in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Thailand, France, Switzerland, London and beyond.  She studied interior design at UCLA.  After several decades at the helm of the home décor store, last year Rijke and her own daughter took a new look at the space and decided to retool Cargo and expand its offering to  include fashion and accessories, adjacent to high-end home design, furniture and art.  

Earlier this year, a stylist came in scouting props for a movie shooting in Brooklyn.  “She nearly emptied the store,” laughed Evelijn.  “But it was great.  Now I’m using my styling eye for movie sets.”

For anyone looking to refresh the design of their home for the change of the season, Rijke’s advice is to use a professional so it’s done right.  She suggests finding one that will work on a day-rate basis, which she says is an easier and less intimidating way to work with a designer.  

“A professional will come in, listen to what you’re looking to do, assess where you are and then offer a quick opinion and specific plan for what can be done, quickly and easily” she said.  “It’s what they do.  Then, the designer can also recommend just one or two items to buy that can make a big difference.”