GROCERY GAME:

The Trader Joe's Sign Goes Up On Columbus Avenue

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It's been a tedious wait for the Trader Joe's on Columbus Avenue to open, and while it hasn't happened yet, we are getting close. This week, we saw the sign being affixed above the future store's entrance at Columbus Avenue and 93rd Street, which means the official opening (still listed as "coming soon" on the chain's website) can't be too far away. A look through the store's large, uncovered windows tells us that the check-out registers are hooked up, and the shelves appear are ready to be stocked. Anyone who has had to experience the winding check-out line of the cramped, multi-level Trader Joe's at 72nd and Broadway will appreciate a second unit on the Upper West Side to alleviate the teeming crowds at busy shopping times —or perhaps there will just be more teeming crowds. At least they will be more convenient for us here at Shophound HQ.  The new store will also add a relatively affordable food store for the West 90s neighborhood which, despite Whole Foods and Westside Market branches within a few blocks, has only a Gristedes and a tiny Associated to serve as traditional supermarkets. We are projecting an opening within the next few weeks, if not sooner.


COMING SOON:

Trader Joe's Next NYC Store Will Come With 2-Buck Chuck

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At this point, a new Trader Joe's is not as unique an event as it used to be, unless it is but a couple of blocks away, as the upcoming Columbus Avenue unit is from Shophound HQ. As we regularly pass breathlessly by the site to gauge progress, we noticed through the recently uncovered front windows that they are starting to install fixtures and registers to the store, suggesting that an opening may be only weeks away. We don't have a firm date yet, but the store at the corner of 93rd Street is listed as 'opening soon' on TJ's website, along with the more unusual news that it will include not just beer but also wine and spirits in its assortment. This will be only the second Trader Joe's liquor store in New York City where it has been notoriously difficult for the chain to navigate the licensing requirements to sell alcohol. Interestingly it will be just down the street from the only Whole Foods around that has a separate liquor store. This may signal fewer obstacles in the future for both chains in adding alcohol to their stores as the Trader Joe's slated for later this year on Spring Street in SoHo is also listed as selling wines and spirits. Perhaps the stores are being more aggressive in achieving their full presentations because, though it's taking a while, and it's going to be all the way in Brooklyn, there's one store on the way that will give both chains a run for their money: Wegmans. Get ready for a grocery way where all New Yorkers might turn out to be the winners.
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OPENING SOON:

The Nordstrom Men's Store Is Now Hiring For An April Opening

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While the immense Mothership across Broadway is at least a year away from opening, the Nordstrom Men's store near Columbus Circle is now prominently posting 'Help Wanted' notices —right in its windows. While the notices are a bit tongue-in-cheek —we don't think that there is actually a position called 'sock svengali' at Nordstrom— their presence indicates that the retailer has set a firm opening date for what is the most significant men's store to to open in New York City since Bergdorf Goodman took advantage of an exceptionally good real estate deal to open its separate mens store in 1990. New York Magazine published a simple floor plan of the store in its current issue with a few highlighted items that don't seem earth shattering, but suggest that Nordstrom is looking to stock up on some cultish, New York-y items like Le Labo beard oil and and Mykita sunglasses which are far removed from the classic but accessible fare that made Nordstrom into a Menswear powerhouse. Little other early info has been released, but it's Nordstrom, so we can safely expect an extensive Mens tailored clothing presentation and an enormous shoe shoe department built to compete in a city now known for its enormous shoe departments. Add competitively pleasing service to that mix, and you should have the menswear staffs of Barneys, Bergdorf's, and Saks on their toes and on notice to see how this new interloper will stand up to the hometown faves. Its only a few months away now, so start the countdown.


A STORE OF ITS OWN:

Everlane's First Permanent Store Makes It Official This Weekend

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Images: Everlane.com

Online retailer Everlane has given us all an abject lesson in taking one's time to get things right. A few years ago, they were an upstart offering just a few basic apparel items whose appeal was split between their deceptively simple design and the label's radically transparent production ethos which demonstrated a commitment to taking full responsibility for maintaining high quality standards and ethics for production and sourcing right down to revealing the full supply chain and costs of each item. There would be no murky network of factories "overseas" in who knows what nation and what conditions. The strategy proved to be a hit in the new millennium and offerings quickly expanded to include all manner of sportswear, shoes and accessories in a signature, stripped down but stylish aesthetic.
A few pop-up stores in trendy New York neighborhoods allowed customers to see the quality up close, but now, Everlane is about to launch its next phase with a permanent brick and mortar store opening on Saturday at 28 Prince Street in Nolita. The new store (pictured above and below) will reflect the brand's minimalistic but stylish look, putting the focus on the product offerings which customers will now be able to touch and try on before purchasing. if you are unfamiliar with Everlane, this will be the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself. More stores are on the way as the company evolves into a full-service retailer, but New Yorkers are privileged to be the first to get their own permanent Everlane outpost, so look for a crowd on Saturday.
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OFF-PRICE ALERT:

Nordstrom Prepares For Its Uptown Flagship With A Humongous Rack On 6th Avenue

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The operating rules of enormous department store chains have changed a lot in the past decade. Once relegated to the suburbs, outlet and clearance divisions have inched ever closer to major full-line shopping neighborhoods, with the latest example being a great big Nordstrom Rack store set to open in about a month at 855 Sixth Avenue at 31st Street, just a few blocks south of Macy's Herald Square and the sprawling collection of mall-stores that spill across the stretch of 34th street west of Fifth Avenue.
A glance at the windows pictured above  tells us that the store will open its doors in about a month on October 26th, and if it looks like it will be pretty big with the entirety of the first two floors of the new building, consider that with the lower level as well, the store will total about 47,000 square feet over three floors. That makes it one of the larger Rack stores around, especially in a location like Manhattan where space is always at a premium.
It has been decades since a major out of town retailer has attempted to crack Manhattan's powerhouse ranks of home-grown retail palaces, but as once sterling names like Gimbel's, Bonwit Teller, B.Altman and Abraham & Straus have fallen over the years, there's a little more room for more competition now. JCPenney of Plano TX, has only managed to get in with an innocuous subterranean location taking up a mere fraction of the building that once housed the entirety of the mighty Gimbel's, but the pride and joy of Dallas, Neiman Marcus, is on its way with an unconventional store in a yet to be completed Hudson Yards tower. The big event on deck, however is Nordstrom's Columbus Circle flagship slated for 2019. The chain has managed to slyly whet New Yorkers' appetites first by taking on the suburbs surrounding the tri-state area where it is now a mainstay. Next, it made Manhattan safe for Department Stores' outlet divisions by opening a Rack unit where the Union Square Virgin Megastore once stood, paving the way for a Saks Off 5th appearing on tony East 57th Street, a once unthinkable location for such an establishment, only seven blocks north of its lavish full-price namesake. Before the splashy Nordstrom flagship debuts, however, its 3-level Men's Store will serve as an extended preview when it opens across Broadway this coming Spring. By the time the Mother ship opens its doors, Manhattanites should be chomping at the bit as if it is one of our own illustrious chains. As for the upcoming Rack, its sheer size suggests that it will be just like the Rack stores we have come to know, but bigger, which outlet shoppers know, is almost always better. By now we all know that most of what these stores carry is either overstock or merchandise made expressly for selling in "outlet" venues. That doesn't mean that they aren't worth your shopping dollars, and Nordstrom Rack at least makes the effort to specially tag items that have indeed come from their full-line stores. It's never a bad idea to catch the opening weeks of such a store either, as off-price chains have been known to pepper their opening offerings with particularly enticingly priced merchandise to ingratiate themselves with new customers. If you happen to have a reason to make your way through the Herald and Greely Square neighborhoods in about a month, you might find yourself making a habit of it.


RETAIL REVIVAL:

Pearl River Mart Finally Finds A New Home In Chelsea Market

PearlRivermartSoHoIt's been a rough road for the beloved downtown emporium Pearl River Mart which was forced out of its multi-level SoHo home (pictured right) with what so many city retailers continuer to face, a massive rent hike. It has been a few years since then, and while the company opened an outpost in Tribeca last fall, a new location in the Chelsea Market with a 15-year lease will receive the benefit of the kind of teeming shopping crowds it used to find regularly in SoHo when it opens later this year. The new store will be 3,500 square feet and along with the familiar mix of Asian products the store is promising special food events, performances and other cultural activities.
Anyone who hasn't visited Manhattan's original food hall will discover that over the summer it has grown by opening up a whole new floor downstairs, an while we don't yet know the specific location of the new store, there is a lot more space for new businesses in the building. According to DNAinfo, Pearl River Mart will be joining a new yet to be named farm-to-table restaurant with an adjacent furniture store from chef John Doherty of Tribeca's Black Barn restaurant and Mark Zeff of the apparently unrelated interior store BLACKBARN Shop. Both ventures are expected to open later this fall, so while the Meatpacking District a block or so south seems to be suffering from a lack of excitement, the Chelsea Market itself looks like it will continue to be a major draw in the neighborhood.


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

ERDEM Is H&M's Big Collaboration This Fall

It's about that time of year when we discover the identity of the designer that H&M has anointed for a pre-Holiday Season publicity blitz, and this time it's Turkish-British-Canadian phenom Erdem Moralioglu (pictured below) whose label ERDEM will get the spotlight with a collaboration collection that will include his first designs for men. As an added bonus, Australian director Baz Luhrmann will be collaborating on the advertising and promotional materials including the evocative announcement video above.
Rather than chasing Instagram glitz or avant garde cachet as it has with the collaboration other years, H&M has chosen to go in a more elegant direction this November. Moralioglu has built a faithful customer base with classical silhouettes married to intricately printed and textured fabrics, often including exuberant floral prints that have succeeded in attracting a broad range of fans with a healthy dose of celebrity red-carpet support. He has quietly made his London-based company a burgeoning powerhouse that claims prized space in stores ranging from mainstream luxury players like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to highly curated outlets like Dover Street Market. His brand is well positioned to maximize the exposure that the H&M collaboration can bring, though it will be interesting to see how he translates his label's hyper feminine fashion image to menswear. Of what we can expect from the collaboration, Erdem says, “The collection reinterprets some of the codes that have defined my work over the past decade. It’s also inspired by much of my youth, from the English films, 90s TV shows and music videos I grew up watching to memories of the style that defined members of my family. Taking from these inspirations, I imagined a group of characters and friends off to the English countryside for the weekend. There’s a real play in the collection between something decidedly dressed-up and equally effortless”. He also cites the cult-favorite Pet Shop Boys video for the song "Being Boring" directed  by Bruce Weber as an inspiration. We have a few months before the first looks for the collection are revealed, but this one is shaping up to be an intriguing team-up for H&M.

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L to R: H&M creative advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson, Erdem Moralioglu, Baz Luhrmann. Photo courtesy of H&M

FLAGSHIP FLASH:

The Nordstrom Men's Store is Slated To Open Well Before The NYC Flagship Store

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There was one thing we were all certain of when the Nordstrom Flagship near Columbus Circle was announced: It was going to take a looooong time to build.
Initially announced as part of new wave of midtown skyscraper buildings, the upcoming store began to grow as it acquired space across the street at 3 Columbus Circle and then it was announced that adjacent buildings at 1776 Broadway and 5 Columbus Circle would be incorporated into the growing flagship including major restoration work on parts of the storefronts —which will probably make it take even longer. There's one part of the store, however, that shouldn't be hampered by complicated construction issues, and that's the Nordstrom Men's Store that is slated to open across the street. Nordstrom2018SignageWhile the opening date of the main store has been pushed to 2019, new signage in the windows of the upcoming men's unit announces a Spring 2018 opening, a full year, at least, ahead of it mothership (pictured at right). Obviously, the advantage here is that the store will open in a building that has already been built, and like any good retailer, the chain wants to get this freestanding component open as soon as possible. This will make Nordstrom only the second major store in Manhattan to house its men's department in a completely separate building on another block since Bergdorf Goodman opened its Men's Store nearly 27 years ago at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue. It helps that Nordstrom has one of the most developed Men's businesses of all the higher-end specialty department store chains. It has long been said among menswear vendors that if Nordstrom is one of your clients, it is likely to be your largest, and over the past decade, the company has made great efforts to evolve its menswear offerings from traditional middle-of-the-road fare to a broader assortment including more international designers and directional labels. We will likely see more evolution in the new store as executives have already promised an extra-special presentation for New York. As the city's erstwhile men's tailored clothing champion, Barneys New York, has jettisoned all but the most luxurious tier of its men's suit offerings, there is an opportunity for Nordstrom to pick up some of that slack as the city is still home to substantial legal and financial industries where lots of men still need nice suits for work. Now, we can be fairly certain that there is less than a year to wait to see how Nordstrom will address New York's menswear market as well as to see the first glimpse of the massive upcoming flagship project.


MOVIN' ON UPTOWN:

Balenciaga Does The Kering Shuffle Uptown With Gucci

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The Shophound hasn't had a stroll down Madison Avenue in a few months, and what did we notice on Monday but a substantial swath of plate glass backed in the unmistakable logo of Balenciaga. It turns out that Manhattan did not really need three Gucci boutiques. As the new Alessandro Michele-era Gucci store opened in Brookfield Place, the Tom Ford/Frida Giannini version in the former Westbury Hotel was shut down in preparation to be ceded to its sister brand. Balenciaga has only ever had one New York store at a time, but its expansion to tony Madison Avenue and 69th Street is a signal that even directional "downtown" brands can benefit from uptown exposure. This will also be first U.S. store for Balenciaga under its still new creative director Demna Gvasalia. While the current, lavish SoHo flagship opened under the brief tenure of creative director Alexander Wang, it was planned under Nicolas Ghesqiuere, who spearheaded the once sleepy label back to prominence. This new shop is expected to have a radically different ambiance given Vêtements designer Gvesalia's more avant-garde point of view. The store is slated to open in June, and will be patterned after the Balenciaga boutique that recently opened in Paris which features a Warehouse style decor with industrial fixtures, foil covered ceilings, cast concrete walls and furniture upholstered in synthetic leather. It's a far cry from the dramatic marble floored opulence found in SoHo. In fact, it's almost as if the two stores will each have an interior more typically suited to the other one, with an elegant uptown ambiance in SoHo, and a downtown industrial look on Madison Avenue. Look for the new boutique's publicity blitz to begin in a couple of months as the store opens just in time to stock the pre-fall collection.


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

J.W. Anderson Is Uniqlo's Next Designer Collaboration

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Image Courtesy of UNIQLO

If Japan's largest retailer seems to be at a bit of an impasse on how to expand it's U.S. business, it remains committed to its strategy of bridging the exclusive designer world with the mass market. The announcement of this fall's designer collaboration at Uniqlo should please fashion fans, as J.W.Anderson's Jonathan Anderson (pictured at right) will be creating a special capsule collection for men and women exclusively for the chain. As designer for both his own label as well as the Spanish luxury leather goods label Loewe, Anderson has caught the attention of fashion insiders even if his public profile has yet to rise to superstar status. That doesn't matter as much to the chain, as it's collaboration with lesser known label Lemaire sold out anyway and led to an ongoing collection with Christophe Lemaire for the Uniqlo U label.
“When I think of Uniqlo, I think of things that are perfectly made, that people have spent a lot of time considering; it’s a difficult job, and I think Uniqlo does it very well,” said Anderson in a statement regarding the upcoming collection. “Working with Uniqlo is probably the most incredible template of democracy in fashion, and it’s nice that my design can be accessible to anyone, on all different levels.”
As of yet, we don't yet know if the exclusive line will extend beyond the fall season (Lemaire's initial collaboration spanned two seasons), but for now we can look forward to a potentially intriguing line from a designer whose aesthetic can range from classic to avant-garde, often in the same collection.