Walter Lowry: Founder of and buyer for TableArt, an L.A. store specializing in imported tabletop products (tartontheweb.com)
Walter Lowry always loved window-shopping while on vacation, so about five years ago he gave up his legal career and cofounded TableArt, a Los Angeles store selling imported cutlery, linens, and objets d'art. Now Lowry hops around Asia and Europe for up to 10 weeks a year as its buyer. "I visit craftsmen in their studios to order goods from them directly," he says. "And I get to see neighborhoods that aren't in guidebooks."
In February, Lowry visited southwestern Poland to meet with porcelain producers, and he became wild about the city of Wroclaw (pronounced vrot-swav), five hours by car from Warsaw. "It has the prettiest plaza in Poland and perhaps in all of central Europe," Lowry says. But the city's real draws--at least to Lowry--are the linens, clothing, and jewelry sold in the markets around Rynek Square and at nearby factory stores. "I saw jackets, with tailoring and styling that were comparable to those sold in the U.S. at Bergdorf or Barneys, going for only $100," says Lowry. And because tourism isn't a major industry in Wroclaw, "you get a sense of how Poland's creative types actually go about living their lives."
How to get there: Sofitel Wroclaw, 67 Ul.sw.Mikolaja, 011-48/71-358-8300, sofitel-wroclaw.com, from $92; car rentals from $40 a day, autoeurope.com.