Upper West Siders have been anticipating the opening of New York City's first Bloomingdale's The Outlet Store, and the retailer's website confirms that the store will open its doors one week from this Saturday, November 21st. The Shophound peeked through that door a few days ago (pictured below) to discover that the store is currently in "finishing touches" mode sprucing up the former Urban Outfitters location which should quickly turn into "stocking the shelves" mode if all activity is on schedule. Passersby can now gauge progress through the diamond-shaped peepholes on the windows pictured above. Like its presumed competitor, Nordstrom Rack, the Bloomingdale's Outlet is expected to carry a smattering of merchandise culled from full-line store clearance, with a stronger focus on off-price goods from similar vendors to those one would find at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. As the neighborhood has lost two major off-pricers, Lehmann's and SYMS/Filene's Basement, in recent years, it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Though it's the first to open within New York City, the store will be the fifteenth Outlet store in the Bloomingdale's chain, and given the current dominant business model of full-priced department store chains bolstered with a generous fleet of outlets, it wouldn't be unrealistic to expect to see more of them sooner rather than later. So far, we haven't heard about any opening day promotions yet, but we will be keeping our ears out for them and posting accordingly. In the meantime, let the countdown begin.
We were all pretty excited to hear that Barneys New York will soon be re-inhabiting the location on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea where it became a world-renowned retailer during the 1980s. If you think, however that the new store will simply slide into its old home with minor renovations, then you don't know Barneys these days. While the exterior of the store has remained relatively intact while construction crews ripped out any trace of the former Lehmann's flagship that took over what was the larger part Barneys' original Men's Store, plywood scaffolding went up a few weeks ago to obscure what looks like a major redesign of the store's façade. The Shophound got a peek inside yesterday afternoon through door left carelessly ajar that shows that the entire ground floor of the store's frontage has been demolished including the grand entrance and the windows that once housed Simon Doonan's infamous Holiday displays. Rumors have the second floor exterior blown out as well, but, so far, that remains to be seen?
What will the new Barneys look like?
Chances are it will have a lot of glass, steel and slabs of marble like its Madison Avenue counterpart, so anyone hoping for a nostalgic feeling when the store finally reopens may have to adjust their expectations.
And about that opening date . . .
About a year ago we heard that the store was pushing it's projected opening forward to January of 2016, and while that was promising news at the time, it seems hard to believe that a new façade could be completed in three months, not to mention that the store's interior space still looks completely gutted.
We may have to cool our heels for just a little bit longer before Barneys once again graces Chelsea with its presence.
It's pretty rare for a premier luxury store like Bergdorf Goodman to participate in something as commercial as a promotional movie tie in, but director Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak" has proved to be a welcome exception. Billed as a gothic romance, the film's lavish production design has been an inspiration to the store's visual team, a group that has demonstrated time and again that no concept is too complicated or ornate for them to take on. While the folks at Bergdorf's haven't yet posted crisp photos on the store's blog 5th at 58th, they have released a behind-the-scenes video (embedded above) that shows the team creating and constructing the film's takeover of the Fifth Avenue windows in all of their macabre splendor. The movie opens this Friday, but you have all week to stop by Bergdorf's to check out another in a series of spectacular windows.
Click HERE for a slideshow of the full windows plus many production stills form the film that provided inspiration.
Traditionally, prestigious department stores have made an effort to keep their outlet stores a safe distance away from their full-line flagships. After all, why confuse the issue for customers? It looks like Nordstrom may be busting that paradigm as The Real Deal is reporting that executives from the off-price Nordstrom Rack are eyeing a space at 3 Columbus Circle (pictured above) for a new location along with another on West 34th Street. That would put a Rack store less than a block away from the huge, full line flagship store that is being built at the bottom of a skyscraper at 225 West 57th Street. The Rack would be in the southeast corner of the building, replacing a Bank of America branch, and literally across Broadway from an entrance to the mother ship store that is expected to open in 2019. While the flagship will be a whopping seven floors, the proposed Rack store will be also be a sizable 40,ooo square feet over three levels, giving Nordstrom something of a mega-shopping headquarters that has never been seen among Manhattan's rarefied department stores where shopping neighborhoods have been strictly stratified, and outlets are more preferably sequestered in discount centers like Woodbury Commons. Outside of independent off-price chains like Century 21 and the defunct Lehmann's, Filene's Basement and Daffy's, Manhattan had traditionally been an outlet-free zone for its luxury department stores. Lately, however, that has been changing, in part thanks to Nordstrom which first entered New York City with a Rack location just off Union Square. Now a Bloomingdale's outlet is set to open later this season at 72nd Street and Broadway, and Saks Off 5th will open in the Financial District at 1 Liberty Plaza, just on the other side of the Word Trade Center complex from an upcoming full line store in Brookfield Place. Still, if this deal comes to fruition, Nordstrom will be the first one to have its own outlet located practically across the street from one of its largest flagship stores.
Nordstrom Rack eyeing 3 Columbus Circle space (The Real Deal)
At this point, several announcements about major renovations for the enormous Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store have come and gone with little actual activity, often because top management has changed faster than they have been able to implement the ever more elaborate and expensive renewal projects. The most recent one came earlier this year when then president Marigay McKee presented plans which included a series of bi-level designer lifestyle boutiques that would ring the main floor and extend up to the second level creating what we could only imagine to be a construction nightmare that wouldn't actually solve the store's pressing merchandising problems. McKee's noisy but brief tenure as Saks president ended shortly after that announcement, and the plans were apparently scuttled.
Today, WWD reports that current Saks President Mark Metrick has announced a new 3-year $250 million renovation plan that is even more radical, shuffling floors and adding a lower concourse level and even a dramatic new elevator. Ordinarily we would simply sigh and say, "We'll believe it when we see it," but now that Saks appears to have settled more comfortably as a division of Canada's Hudson's Bay Company, we have a feeling that this plan, or at least parts of it, will stick. Here are some of the main points of what will ultimately be a startling shakeup of every floor in the store.
Handbags and Accessories will take over the entire main floor.
One of Saks' longtime merchandising struggles on Fifth Avenue has been an epic fight for space on the main floor of the original building between cosmetics and handbags. Despite the enormous amount of floor space, there has never been enough room for retail's two most profitable categories to coexist peacefully there along with jewelry, and it would appear that cosmetics has won, taking over almost all of the floor space, and pushing accessories to a series of in-store shops around the store's perimeter and an undersized multi-brand handbag section crammed into the escalator atrium. This forced handbag customers to not only shop in a cumbersome ring around the huge main floor, but also to have to contend with aggressive makeup reps while buying purses.
In a reversal, Accessories have now gained the upper hand, and will not only take over the front of the main floor, but also the Swiss Tower sections behind the escalators currently occupied by jewelry. That department will be divided between the new concourse level downstairs to be called "The Vault" for precious gems and watches and part of the tower section of the second floor which presumably will house semiprecious baubles. It's a big change that will not only make it easier to sell those high-margin accessories, but should also mollify some important luxury brands without their own in-store shops who could not have been happy with the puny accessory area around the escalator atrium. This means that...
Cosmetics will move to the second floor.
Competitors Bergdorf's and Barneys have previously solved space problems by creating expansive makeup deportments in luxuriously renovated basements, but Saks will twist that scheme by moving it upstairs instead for 53% more space. The second floor at Saks is currently dedicated to more separates-oriented women's designer collections (they used to call it Designer Sportswear), but the section in the front of the store hasn't seen a major renovation since the 1970s, which is when the dramatic wooden superstructure you see there now was installed. Presumably, it will finally be cleared out. How will Saks keep what must be one of the biggest cosmetics departments in the world humming without the main floor foot traffic? A new glass elevator with a 23-foot staircase spiraling around it as well as an additional escalator will be installed in the center of the main floor to ferry customers up to two and down to the new jewelry concourse. Having cosmetics on two will trade the main floor's hectic —and extremely loud— ambiance for a more relaxing environment that will encourage customers to buy more. It will also save store visitors from having to brave battalions of fragrance models on their way to the upper floors, which is a win for everybody
Women's apparel will shrink from four to three floors.
With cosmetics moving up, women's wear will lose an entire floor, but the entire women's departments are being re-imagined. No longer to be stratified by price between the second and fifth floors, women's departments will now be arranged by lifestyle, with varying price points and different designer collections on every floor between 3 and 5. In addition, a new department call "The Ballroom" will be created on the 9th floor devoted only to eveningwear including shoes, handbags and jewelry. Bridal will also be included on the floor as well.
While Men's will remain on 6 and 7, it too will be rearranged with more of a lifestyle point of view, and other departments will be tweaked and moved around. The plan is one of the most elaborate store renovation plans we have seen, but, assuming it is fully carried out, it will give Saks some long overdue changes and updates. Don't get too anxious to see the results, however. It is not projected to be completed until 2018. In the meantime, there will be much construction disrupting the store, but when it is finished, it should result in a state-of-the-art ready to do battle just as fierce competitor Nordstrom sails into town.
MOVIN' ON UP:
Former JCPenney Spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres To Team Up With Bergdorf Goodman For Pop-Up Shops
Sometimes it takes a while to find the right business associates.
It was just a few years ago that Ellen DeGeneres became the face of a radical makeover of mass market department store JCPenney. As we recall, it didn't go too well for anyone involved, but since then, Ellen has forged a new merchandising path with a more upscale lifestyle brand, ED by Ellen that launched online earlier this year. In a belated celebration of the new brand, the comedian turned talk-show-host turned designer will make a decidedly more luxurious statement by opening at the city's most opulent retailer, Bergdorf Goodman.
From labor day until the end of September, ED by Ellen Decorative Home will have its own in-store shop in Bergdorf's home furnishings department on the 7th floor. It will be the first time that any of DeGeneres's merchandise will be available to see and purchase in-person in a retail setting. Apparel offerings from the label will be available online at BergdorfGoodman.com, though they don't appear to be scheduled for an in-store appearance at the moment. While Ellen's pared down and casual style, as well as more accessible price points, might seem more suited to store with a broader customer base like Lord & Taylor or even Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman president Josh Schulman told WWD that her "amazing sense of style" will resonate with Bergdorf customers, elaborating, “we do a tremendous business with brands with a simple aesthetic, a refined, clean aesthetic and we believe this will be something fun for them.” Schulman calls the specially curated offerings "the elevated expression" of the brand. Apparel items will range from a $45 T-shirt to a $1,495 hand-knit cashmere fisherman scarf, which seems priced well within Bergdorf's wheelhouse. In the home section, items will include barware and ceramic tableware and a handwoven cashmere throw going for $3750 among other selections. While the pop-ups are currently slated to be a one-time event, an ongoing partnership has not been ruled out depending on customers' respone to the new brand.
The fate of the lumbering behemoth known as Macy's in Brooklyn has been decided, and while the store will stay put, it will be both shrunken and dramatically overhauled.
Over the past couple of years, the Shophound has been following the state of the huge and historic but woefully out of date Macy's store in Downtown Brooklyn. The centerpiece of a renewed Fulton Street shopping corridor, the enormous nine-floor store is one of the largest in the chain, but has failed to keep up with both the newer influx of retailers to the area and the increasingly affluent population inhabiting the Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens neighborhoods that are literally in its backyard. About a year ago, Macy's officials announced a long overdue renovation for the neglected store, which began its life in 1865 as the Abraham & Straus flagship, that would renovate it from top to bottom. Surprisingly, the plan was put on hold a scant few weeks later as the store began to explore other real estate options for the valuable site including a possible sale or redevelopment of the building and a move to a smaller site nearby. The newly updated plan will include a combination of several options. Yesterday, Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren revealed a scheme that will shrink the floor from its current nine floors to the first four levels plus the basement. The upper floors will be sold to real estate developer Tishman Speyer for $170 million who will also cover the costs of the renovation below with another $100 million over the next three years.
While it sounds like the store will be substantially reduced in size, it will actually only go from 378,000 square feet of selling space on nine floors to 310,000 square feet on five. Upgrades are said to include uncovering windows to allow more light as well as renovated bathrooms, escalators and elevators along with a general refurbishment of the of the space. A walk through the store today would reveal an ungainly patchwork of poorly sequenced departments as well as an ill advised mezzanine level on half of the main floor that creates cramped shopping spaces and obscures parts of the building's original architecture. However, a closer look reveals striking Art Deco architectural details like a lavishly decorated bank of elevators at the store's center (pictured below) and carved marble frieze work framing the main entrances on Fulton and Livingston Streets (pictured above). Ultimately, it will be a few years before we see the results of the renovation, but given the store's rapidly gentrifying locale, the opportunity for a freshly made-over Macy's in Brooklyn to do big business is huge.
We were pretty sure that this was a decision that had to be made quickly, and it was. Following on the heels of
NBCUniversal, Univision and several other companies, Macy's Inc. has dropped Donald Trump merchandise from its 789 stores.
A statement released today reads:
“Macy’s is a company that stands for diversity and inclusion. We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form. We welcome all customers, and respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture. We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico. We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation. In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy’s values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump and will phase-out the Trump men’s wear collection, which has been sold at Macy’s since 2004.”
This comes in the wake of a moveon.org petition that garnered over 7000,000 signatures in a few days protesting the real estate mogul and declared presidential candidate's statements about Mexican immigrants earlier this month while announcing his candidacy. His characterization of them as drug-ridden criminals and rapists incensed many in the media world and caused Univision to drop the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and NBCUniversal to also cancel the pageants as well as sever all other ties with him, effectively banning him from returning to The Celebrity Apprentice reality show should he not get elected to the highest office in America.
Macy's has sold Trump branded merchandise for about 10 years, and often used him as a spokesperson for the store most prominently in TV adds along with Martha Stewart, Tommy Hilfiger, Sean "P.Diddy" Combs and other designers and celebrities whose product lines the store carries exclusively. The most recent such personality is Mexican singer and actress Thalía, whose collections launched at the chain earlier this year in an effort to invite more Latino customers to shop at Macy's. That would, of course, be at odds with showcasing Trump's merchandise, especially as the list of companies and celebrities distancing themselves from him grows longer. WWD describes Tump and Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren as "golf buddies", and notes that Macy's has also been a supporter of the Ice Skating in Harlem program for young girls, which holds an annual benefit at Trump (formerly Wollman) Rink in Central Park. There's no word whether or not that sponsorship will continue. At this point, Donald Trump's theory that his business experience makes him a good choice for president seems only to be proving that, at least at a consumer level, politics and business are better off staying as far away from each other as possible.
It's an old story, but no less distressing each time it plays out. Pearl River Mart, a SoHo institution famous for inexpensive but often surprisingly stylish Chinese imports, is set to close its store after 44 years of business as its rent on Lower Broadway is set to increase fivefold when the current lease expires at the end of this year. Pearl River currently pays over $100 thousand per month for three levels of shopping over 30,000 square feet, and it has been in the location since 2003, when it moved from a smaller, dustier space at the corner of Canal Street and Broadway. When the store moved to Broadway between Broome and Grand Streets, the trendy shopping district in SoHo ended abruptly at Broome Street. South of that border was mostly relegated to local sneaker and streetwear stores, and bargain resource Pearl River was actually upgrading the neighborhood. Since then, SoHo has become an even hotter destination, and chains like Muji, Topshop, Madewell and CBR to name a few as well as home-grown phenomena like Opening Ceremony have pulled customers south on Broadway sending rents soaring. If you think that a five-fold rent increase after only twelve years is excessive, then you are right, but it shows you how aggressive New York City landlords have become in making sure that they are maximizing revenue from all of their properties regardless of how it affects presumably good tenants.
As of yet, Pearl River does not have a replacement location lined up, and, according to Crain's, and will shift its business to an online platform. The building's owner claims to still be negotiating with Pearl River to remain, perhaps on upper floors, but the store's owners are looking to head closer to its origins in Chinatown, possibly to space below Canal Street where the rent would be in the $90 per square foot range. Still, leaving its now lavishly spacious digs on Broadway will likely mean that the store will have to trim its inventory of over 17,000 different items. Hopefully, Pearl River won't have to move too far away. Once a best kept secret of fashion stylists and downtowners, many Manhattanites have found themselves exploring the vast offerings there while stocking up on basic kitchen items or bamboo chopsticks or classic but affordable blue and white planters or any number of other popular items of Asian origin. It's one of those places you don't find everywhere that makes shopping in New York that much more special.
Saks Fifth Avenue surprised the fashion and retailing industry yesterday afternoon by announcing that its new, high-profile president, Marigay McKee, had left the company and would be replaced by Marc Metrick (pictured right), executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the Hudson’s Bay Co. A year and a half ago, hiring McKee's away from Harrod's in London was considered a coup for Saks which had just been acquired by HBC. She was unafraid of making herself the face of the retailer, and enthusiastically vocal about her plans to upgrade the chain's stores with a higher luxury quotient to better compete with rival Neiman Marcus —particularly the Fifth Avenue flagship, which seems to be continually in a state of reconfiguration and renovation. McKee seemed almost like a throwback to flamboyant merchant princes like Marvin Traub of Bloomingdale's or Stanley Marcus who ran their companies with a hefty dose of dazzle dazzle.
So why did HBC's glittery new hire go sour so quickly? In today's post-mortem in WWD, David Moin seems to suggest that it was not her professional abilities but her management style that got her canned. According to unnamed sources, McKee stepped on many toes which led to the departure of too many valued longtime Saks personnel including most prominently chief merchant Jennifer De Winter who recently decamped to Tiffany. McKee is described as a not a "good fit" for the store, and as someone whose office frequently saw people leaving in tears after meetings with her. This, apparently, made it difficult to attract new talent to replace fleeing, formerly stalwart personnel who became attractive to other companies, a state of affairs that should be corrected with her departure as searches for several executive positions are under way.
And yet, it's hard to imagine that it was only management style that caused her dismissal. There are plenty of celebrated fashion and retailing executives whose management antics make industry insiders shudder. Was there something more behind McKee's firing? HBC executives stress that the extravagant $250 million re-imagining of the Fifth Avenue flagship store would proceed as planned, although McKee's vision included radically reconfiguring several floors including creating two-level in-store boutiques for luxury labels that would rise from the main floor to the second. A dramatic renovation like that including other plans for the building would likely cost quite a bit more than $250 million in New York City and put the store in a state of construction for years at a time. While Saks has real problems appropriately configuring its space, particularly on its over-packed main floor, that solution might have been overly costly even for HBC which is committed to investing in the store's redesign. McKee's other initiative was to cull the store's vast matrix of vendors and cut loose the brands that weren't making enough profit for the store, but a year into McKee's tenure saw Saks's flagship packed with merchandise, with every possible nook and cranny of the selling floors fitted with a rack for full-priced goods. For a store supposedly devoted to paring down its brands, it looked more like they were buying every possible label they could and throwing them on the floor to see what stuck with customers, as opposed to the strategy of a seasoned merchant carefully crafting an upgraded fashion image. Contrary to increasing the luxury quotient, it made Saks feel more like a moderate department store full of racks —not the best way to compete for customers looking for the most upscale shopping experience.
As for her replacement, Marc Metrick was a 15-year veteran of Saks before he came to HBC three years ago, so he comes with the longtime understanding of the store and its culture that McKee lacked. He is not, however, a merchant, but he looks exactly like the kind of person who is often brought in to steady a ship that has been rocked a bit too hard. So HBC's grand plans to strengthen Saks against its rivals has hit a delay, and the clock is ticking. While Bergdorf Goodman has always been the main store Saks vies with for customers in New York City, its two biggest competitors nationwide, Nordstrom and Bergdorf sibling Neiman's, are headed to Manhattan within the next few years. By then, Saks will have had its second store in the borough open at Brookfield Place in the Financial District. What it needs right now is the right merchant to get it ready for the influx of competition.
Marc Metrick In, Marigay McKee Out at Saks By David Moin (WWD)