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April 23 2014

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Armchair Shopping With The Sundance Channel

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Shopping gets a bad rap. A person who likes the process of browsing and buying stuff is commonly understood to be engaged in the shallowest of endeavors—a creature of vanity or someone blindly keeping up with the Joneses. But the new Sundance Channel series Man Shops Globe argues against the conventional wisdom on the act. Keith Johnson, the star of the show, is the buyer at large for Anthropologie. He spends most of his time trotting from places like the famed Clignancourt in Paris to the bazaars of Mumbai, hunting for the antique and artisanal goods that give Anthropologie stores their idiosyncratic flavor.

As the series trails Johnson on his buying trips, it reveals the possibility that shopping is an important way of opening a window onto a place and its culture. “I really struggled with whether or not I wanted to mention Anthropologie on the show,” says Johnson, who created Man Shops Globe with producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (Party Monster, The Eyes of Tammy Faye). “Ultimately, the series wasn’t going to make any sense if we didn’t acknowledge that I go on these trips for a reason,” he continues. “But beyond that, the store itself is really all about these stories. I think there are objects you just appreciate more when you can see the people behind them, and understand the process that went into making them.”

The eight episodes, which take Johnson through Tunisian souks, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, and even a studio in South Africa specializing in high-end recycled design, should be manna for the acquisitive armchair traveler. The series premieres next week on October 7 at 10 p.m. with Johnson, quite fittingly, hitting Paris flea markets and eventually heading down to Provence on the hunt for furniture that isn’t outrageously priced. Bon chance!

Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Channel

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