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Marshalls Takes The Basement

We have been trying to figure out what the difference is between T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, and the new Marshalls that opened yesterday in Chelsea as the second part of the TJX Company's three pronged assault on Manhattan's off/price discount market does nothing to demystify the issue for us. They are owned by the same parent company, and they carry the same merchandise —exactly the same merchandise. The main distinction between the new Marshalls branch and the T.J.Maxx that sits a few flights above it in the Siegel-Cooper Building at 620 Sixth Avenue is that that Marshalls has a greater proportion of apparel to housewares and home furnishings, and they also carry men's shoes. That's about it. If you are a T.J. Maxx fan, it's a good thing because you have another store to rummage through for bargains when you are finished upstairs. If you don't care about either one, you can easily ignore them both by going neither up nor down on the escalators outside of Bed Bath & Beyond. Basically everybody wins, and judging from the long lines at Marshalls registers yesterday, the company's business strategy for New York seems to be working. Next on deck, T.J.Maxx's Columbus Circle Flagship opening on November 11th. Just look for a big red shoe.

Marshalls 620 Sixth Avenue between 18th & 19th Streets, Chelsea
Discount Domination: T.J.Maxx Takes Over With A Double Header Plus A Marshalls


Nordstrom To Launch
New Store Concept In SoHo

350 West Broadway
Some people got a little overexcited yesterday upon learning that Nordstrom was opening up at 350 West Broadway in Soho.


If that makes no sense at all to you, then you are exactly right, because what is opening is not a Nordstrom store exactly, but a new store owned by Nordstrom. Clearly, there is no building on West Broadway suitable for the full-line Nordstrom flagship the company would like to open in Manhattan one day, but what they are building is a two level, 11,000 square foot store between Grand and Broome Streets under another as yet unannounced name. In an intriguing development, its earnings will be specifically funneled to non-profit organizations. There will be no evident connection to the Nordstrom name much like the way most customers at Jeffrey are unaware that they are actually shopping at a division of the chain.

As this information comes from the real estate folks who brokered the deal, Nordstrom has not yet released extensive details on the new store concept, beyond that it is expected to open sometime next Fall. Merchandising strategy and, of course, what it will actually be called, have yet to be determined. Of course, when a great big honest-to-goodness Nordstrom store finally comes to Manhattan is anyone's guess, but until that happens, we'll just have to settle for dumb old Bergdorf's, Barneys, Bloomingdale's and Saks.

Wait, why are we so cracked up about Nordstrom again?

Charitable Nordstrom store slated for W. B’way (Crain's)
BOMBSHELL: Nordstrom to Open on West Broadway in Soho (Racked)


Door Policy Edition

MONCLER-CRITIC-A-articleLarge This week's Critical Shopper, Jon Caramanica informs us that something has arrived in SoHo that we all need like a hole in the head: a boutique with a door policy.

Yes, it turns out that the new Moncler boutique on Prince Street can accommodate only a select few customers at a time, leaving others eager to acquire a glossy, puffy down jacket with a four-figure price tag waiting outside for space to free up in the shop.

Over a span of 15 minutes, at least 10 people left the store, but none of the dozen or so who were clustering at the door, some in mild shiver, were allowed in. There was griping, but little resistance, all of us resigned to the absurdity of waiting outside in winteresque temperatures to be allowed into a store that exclusively sells cold-weather gear.

Of course, once our shopper is finally admitted, he discovers more cold truths about the status ski shop. Sizes are limited, and not everything you see may actually be for sale, including functional apparel items like hats and shoes.

We groan just thinking about the pretension, but apparently it hasn't held the store back. There is, apparently, no shortage of customers willing to suffer to buy into it.

Critical Shopper: Moncler, Where the Parkas Need a Bouncer By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Moncler 90 Prince Street between Broadway & Mercer Street, SoHo


Lord & Taylor In Show-Off Mode


Click all images for a larger view in a new window

Lord & Taylor has chose this week to launch the world's most overdue store renovation, and last night, the store's President and CEO Brendan Hoffman invited several hundred members of the press and other luminaries to celebrate what is being touted as "The Ultimate Face-Lift".

LordandtaylorFlowergirls Well, a tiny bit of overstatement is always in order whenever a department store needs to promote something, but Lord & Taylor's transformation has been a long time coming... a really long time. Glittery aerialists aside, Hoffman and his team appear to have accomplished the impossible, which was to blow a thick layer of dust off of the venerable store. Rather than gut the immense building, Hoffman and his team have stripped away decades of dreary decor to reveal the the building's elegance. The imposing columns have been whitewashed. Crystal chandeliers have been hung. Cracks in the vaulted ceiling have been filled in, and the once dingy store has suddenly become fresh and inviting.

When ownership of the chain finally settled at Canada's Hudson's Bay Company, the conventional wisdom was that several floors of the store would be closed, and the entire flagship would be downsized, but strategic re-merchandising and a bit of TLC brought on sales increases, so not only was no space sacrificed, but an entire floor was given over to reviving Lord & Taylor's home furnishings department leading to the city's (and possibly the world's) largest Lauren by Ralph Lauren Home department.

LordandtaylorMayorBloomberg To make sure that everyone saw the whole store, Music and every imaginable sort of beverage from beer to champagne was scattered over seven floors. A brass band played the red carpet before we even got into the store, and on the main floor, we were greeted by the aforementioned aerialists (above) and music from suitably fashionable former model DJ  Sky Nellor. We managed to catch Mayor Bloomberg who stopped by to deliver a special proclaimation to Hoffman. He arrived in the wake of Special Guest singer Ciara who breezed through the floor before being whisked away. Up the escalator, we found something we would never have bet on seeing at the genteel store, famed rock and roll party boy Andrew W.K. spinning his peculiar mix of hard rock and disco on 2  along with tortilla chips and mini-empanadas. Up on 3 was Jazz, on 4 was DJ Lexey etc. etc. By the ninth floor, we were rewarded for our journey with Godiva Chocolates, but it was the 10th floor that was jammed. Here was the VH1 Classic Behind the Music Lounge, where all the V.I.P. guests were shuttled along with sliders, chips and an abundance of Sigmund Pretzels. LordandtaylorAndrewWK This men's floor was also where the beer was, and the throngs guzzling Stella Artois proliferated up there as everyone tried to get a look at Ciara along with smattering of erstwhile supermodels (Paulina Porizkova, Eve Salvail) reality show stars (Real Housewife Jill Zarin & one of those insufferable Logo A-Listers) and their entourages.

VH1 also saw to it that the store was populated with student musicians performing which was an inspiring alternative to the more obvious musical options for such a huge event. Overall, it was not the kind of glittery Page-Six ready event that you might expect from Barneys or Bergdorf's, but this was Lord & Taylor who seemed to care less about having socialites photographed in their store than about getting real customers back in there to shop. Their efforts are paying off. Business is up at the Fifth Avenue flagship, and if they can transfer that momentum to the rest of their stores, then they will be well prepared for the inevitable day when Nordstrom finally arrives in Manhattan.


Too Soon.

It's October 26th and 72° outside, but that wouldn't stop the Bloomingdale's tradition of inappropriately decorating early for Christmas. They do start slow, but you can't help getting annoyed when the first thing you see upon entering on the Third Avenue side are display vitrines decorated with snowflakes and all sorts of vague "Holiday-ish" text reading: "PEACE, LOVE, MERRY, HAPPY etc.". What's the rush? It's all a perfectly nice Holiday display, but, PLEASE, not yet. It isn't even Halloween yet.

That is all.

Today In Jumping The Gun: In Which We Get Annoyed By Christmas In October (10/29/09)


Levi's Meatpacking Store Stocks Up

If you look in the center of the photo above, you can see that inside the Upcoming Levi's store is stocking the shelves, so it should be opening shortly. The company website still lists the location as "coming soon", so we have few details about plans for the upcoming shop.

Our other question, obviously, is what will they be selling? Well, jeans, of course, but which ones? Since there is already a great basic Levi's Store down 14th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, how will this one fit the more exclusive Western end of the street? Our guess (hope? wishful thinking?) is that along with the best of the brand's basics, the store will showcase its premium Made and Crafted and Vintage labels as well as the collaboration collections it has done with Billy Reid, Opening Ceremony, Pendleton and so many others. Of course, since The Shophound is like a crackhead for jeans, we just want to see what's inside that store! We shouldn't have too long to wait.

Meatpacking Moves: Levi's To Join The Jeans Parade


T.J.Maxx Takes Over With
A Double Header Plus A Marshalls

Are you shopping at T.J.Maxx yet? Within the space of three weeks, the huge off-price chain is doubling it's store count in Manhattan from two to four, along with adding a third unit of its sibling store, Marshalls, this Thursday. Not enough? early next year, Manhattan's first Home Goods, yet another sibling, will open on the Upper West Side on Columbus Avenue at 98th Street.

Still paying retail?

Maybe you're just not the kind of person who likes to rummage through off-price stores looking for a bargain when you can just hit your favorite sample sale a couple of times a year —and you really couldn't be blamed for that. However, if you suffer from a chronic bargain-hunter's urge, then T.J.Maxx is hell bent on tantalizing you as much as possible. Sunday's grand opening at the former Conran Shop building by the Queensboro Bridge (above) was by all reports a madhouse with sales staff still not finished restocking by Monday afternoon. The formerly serene home furnishings store is now crammed with racks, and finding the bargains takes a lot of work. From what we could see, the women's clothing had been picked clean of any designer goods (which will pop up at T.J.Maxx every now and then). It was a sea of moderate separates as was the men's section save for a couple of rounders stocked with Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferré and even a bit of Prada and Gucci. Were these opening day enticements designed to hook you in to returning repeatedly in hope of finding more? Possibly, but that didn't stop the customers from swarming, and there was more than a little bit of stroller gridlock around the elevator —always a delight. The more reliable kitchen, bed and bath departments were surprisingly limited at this location. Overall, this branch was proportionately the most clothes-heavy of the three currently open in Manhattan, but that could change on November 11th when the Columbus Circle branch, it's highest profile location, opens. Perhaps parent company TJX is pulling back the non-apparel categories to give the upcoming Home Goods store more impact next year.

We're not done with off-price shopping this week. We'll be checking out Chelsea's new Marshalls on Thursday. It opens at 8 AM, so we'll need our rest.

T.J.Maxx 407 East 59th Street at First Avenue, Upper East Side


Dior & Prada Shops
Coming Soon To Bloomingdale's

Though the massive overhaul of Bloomingdale's main floor designer accessory boutiques is only about halfway finished, the store is boldly positioning itself to take on its biggest competitors once it is done. The most impressive change will be the addition of major Prada and Christian Dior boutiques as well as the just-opened Jimmy Choo shop to the already heady mix of handbags on the Lexington Avenue side of the floor. This puts Bloomingdale's on a better footing to compete with stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman whose limited distribution arrangements with most luxury brands left the East Side favorite out of the loop, until now. A big, expanded Chanel shop recently opened alongside newly refreshed spaces for Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Fendi and Chloé.

While there was a time when Bloomingdale's would have been first place a a hot brand would want to be seen, the store's prestige took a critical hit during the recession of the 1990s when management made a decision to trade down and de-emphasize its high end assortments. While the store hung on to sterling labels like Chanel and Giorgio Armani, it lost its place in the pecking order for emerging brands and missed out on much of the status "It" bag business as the century turned. It has been a long, hard fought battle to rebuild the store's snob appeal, and the store's ongoing renovations appears to have helped convince picky vendors like Prada and Dior that it has the proper environment for their labels. Sharp-eyed shoppers will have noticed that earlier in the year, cluttery counters were removed from the Lexington Avenue entrances, giving the floor a more genteel, elegant feeling while more aspirational labels like Burberrry, Longchamp and Coach got kicked half a flight upstairs to the cosmetics level. That leaves the lower section as pure luxury player that will ultimately be anchored by Prada at one end and Louis Vuitton at the other.

We are guessing that the new accessory shops will be completed sometime before the Holiday season, so we should see the reults of the overhaul in a few weeks. Settled firmly in the city's wealthiest zip code, Bloomingdale's should now have a lot more enticement to lure back the nearby customers who abandoned it for tonier options years ago.

This Week Online

There's really no better way  to attract customers than with the designer of the moment, so Gilt is kicking off the week with Alexander Wang.

That should get somebody's attention at any rate. Log in early. His sales move fast.

They are not the only site with intrigue, however. Rue La La is Opening with treats from Paris's legendary Fauchon, and later on will offer Stephen Dweck's bold jewelry. Here is just a sampling of what looks good to us amongst the online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events. Be sure to check the correct start times for sales on each site. Happy clicking!

Alexander Wang, Jacob & Co., Temperley London, White & Warren, Michael Stars, White & Warren, Carlos Falchi, Manuel Canovas, Paige Black Label, Soixante Neuf  —join HERE
SPURR, Clae, Richard Chai, Belstaff, Esquivel, John Smedley, Corneliani, J Brand, Billy Reid —join HERE
Casafina, Manuel Canovas, Auerhahn, Cusipro & Arcuisine, Portico, Vietri, Bormioli Rocco, Vietri, Lladró —join HERE
Fauchon, Sorel, Illy, Peacock Alley, Smith Optics, Safavieh, Stephen Dweck, Cuisinart, Tadashi Shoji, Baccarat, Reebok —join HERE
Calvin Klein, Nine West, Hobo International, Lynn Chase, Victorinox, Sue Wong —join HERE
George Smith, Zambiati Cashmere, Dempsey & Carroll Stationery, Scandia, Sabre Flatware, Zwilling J.A. Henckels —join HERE
Bird by Juicy Couture, Invicta, Rich & Skinny, ESPRIT Outerwear, LORAC, Tibi & Butter Shoes —join HERE


Levi's Photo Workshop Opens
A Free Studio For Everyone

Photographers of all kinds are welcome at the newly opened Levi's Photo Workshop at the bottom of Wooster Street in SoHo. Open through December 18th, studio is available to all levels of practitioners and offers studio space, hi-tech printers and computers to basically anyone who wants to use them. The program is billed as a community-based venue for collaboration and creative production, and a different communications craft is featured at each Levi's Workshop. This one follows a two-month Print Workshop that served San Francisco earlier this year.

You might think that this is just another opportunity for the clothing giant to promote its product line, but clothes and other items for sale including books, are relegated to an upstairs loft. The focus here (no pun intended) is on photography, and creating a fully functioning resource center during its brief tenure. We saw workers at the site explaining to incredulous visitors that the studio space, which was being used for a group photo (above) when we visited, was available to anyone, and cameras and other equipment could be rented based on availability all at no charge (though off-site use is subject to a small security deposit). Basically, Levi's along with its fellow sponsors, is offering a free professional photo studio to anyone who wants to use it for the next couple of months.

In addition to that, there are a host of workshops, classes and panel discussions as well as a few performances on the calendar, and of course there will be photo exhibitions. Currently the walls are festooned with "1,001 Images" taken by Yeah Yeah Yeah's guitarist Nick Zinner over the band's past ten years of touring. And for those who just want a break from an afternoon of heavy SoHo shopping, there is always that source of endless entertainment, the Photo Booth.

Levi's Photo Workshop open through December 18th (closed Mondays) 18 Wooster Street between Grand & Canal Streets, SoHo