Six years ago, Mr. Archambeau and his wite, Ora, decided to lock the door of their specialty food and gift shop, Au Bon Gout. There were just too many strollers finding the Via Mizener, colorful offshoot of the glamorous Worth Avenue shopping area. They put up a sign saying “Private Membership Club,” issued keys and started admitting only men and women willing to advance $100 annually, to be credited against merchandise they bought. The checks poured in; there are now 1,500 members, each with some guest privileges.
“If they can't spend $100 a year, they don't belong here,” Mr. Archambeau said.
Customers are offered wine as they enter, and often wander through the sprawling converted house with glass in hand. They also nibble on Flying Saucers, crisp bits of unleavened bread made on the premises and packaged in two‐ounce jars that sell for $3. Almost no self‐respecting cocktail party in town is without them.
Although the shop is a potpourri of gifts and, food, two items that walk out almost as fast as they're made are the $5 potholders, particularly the one that says “Who invited all these tacky people?” and a pillow that reads “It's not un‐American to make a profit.” One man ordered 24 but had added to, the reverse side, “But it's a hell of a struggle.”
Mail order customers don't get keys, but they don't have a $100 minimum either. There's a catalogue ($2) issued annually. It can be had by writing Au Bon Goht, Via Mizener, Palm Beach, Fla. 33480.