It seemed like a good idea when it opened, but the Burberry Brit store on Columbus Avenue made a stealthy exit several weeks ago, perhaps to make way for something a bit more suitable for the neighborhood. Momwear mainstay J.Jill has swiftly taken over the 2,816 square foot store between 67th and 68th Street for its very first New York City store. Though the retailer has 250 stores throughout the U.S. and is well represented in the suburban malls that surround the city. Despite not having a store here, Manhattan is reportedly the brands top-volume market through its website and catalogues. Now under a new owner, look for J.Jill to increase its visibility in the city imminently. Apparently the West Side store is just the first of several new NYC stores for the label set to appear later this year. A spokesperson for the brand tells WWD, "We expect to expand our New York City footprint later this year."
Part of the chain's success may be due to its main customer base. While most retailers have been chasing the elusive and sometimes unpredictable Millennial customer, J.Jill has been doing very well by catering to the good old Baby Boomers with easy, casual clothing. With that in ind, they should last a lot longer on the Upper West Side than their predecessor did.
The Columbus Circle Subway Station's Upcoming Retail Tenants Are More Chelsea Market Than MTA
The Columbus Circle subway station has been under renovation for so long that we almost forgot that it was supposed to have shops lining the block-long underground walkway that spans Eighth Avenue from underneath the Hearst Building south of 57th Street to Time Warner Center at 58th. Today, however a list of the carefully curated tenants was released that reveals the elaborate plan to take advantage of the 90,000 people who pass through the 14,750 square foot space every day.
To be called Turnstyle, (see renderings above) the shopping complex will include a mix of food and fashion retailers staring with a food court with seating on the southern side slated to include Ignazio’s Pizza, Gelato Ti Amo, MeltKraft grilled cheese, Bosie Tea Parlor, Ellary’s Greens organic café and an unnamed cupcake shop meant to replace Magnolia Bakery which pulled out of a proposed store. Live music will also be added to the mix according to Susan Fine, the developer of the concourse who revealed the plans to the Observer. On the north end, another grab 'n go food section will bring Dylan’s Candy Bar, Georgia’s Café and Bakery, The Nut Box, Fika espresso bar,Just Falafel street food and By Suzette crepes. Connecting the food will be an "impulse buy" section expected to include Blossom Du Jour vegan fast-food, Spectre & Co. men’s accessories, Studio Manhattan handbags and accessories, Lush handmade bath products, Arth hats, Specs New York eyewear and Kit’s Underground Wine and Spirits. A lease is reportedly out for a Papyrus card shop as well.
Given the upscale improvements in the neighborhood such as The Shops at Columbus Circle and the highly anticipated Nordstrom flagship at 57th Street and Broadway with its vast luxury tower above, developers made a special effort to avoid the typical newsstand/candy store/shoe repair combination typically found in midtown subway stations. Of course, there is always the chance that no matter how affluent the commuters, sometimes all they really want or need is a newsstand, a candy shop and, most importantly, a shoe repair when they are coming and going from work. It is hoped that new stores will be opening by the end of the year, and then we will see if the Columbus Circle retail arrangement will become a template for other large subway stations throughout the city.
Slate of Hot Retailers Headed Below Ground at Columbus Circle (Commercial Observer)
Here's a late afternoon surprise that should delight West Siders who miss trolling for bargains at Filene's Basement.
Bloomingdale's is opening its first, much rumored off-price outlet store in New York City at the corner of Broadway and 72nd Street in the space that has housed Urban Outfitters for the past 15 years or so. The Observer reports that the popular East Side department store will take over the space in July when Urban Outfitters' lease runs out, and they predict an opening in time the Holiday Season which suggests that renovations will probably not be too extensive, though, we don't really know what the store is going to look like yet.
With a 3-level DSW at 79th Street and the space once occupied by Loehmann's still empty, the Bloomingdale's move signals that the West 70s are still considered fertile ground for discounters of upscale goods despite the loss of significant players in the past few years. It also shows that luxury department stores are no longer wary of placing their outlet units near their exalted full-line flagships. Several years ago, a Bloomingdale's outlet would have been a likelier prospect for Woodbury Commons or Secaucus, but since Nordstrom Rack showed up in Union Square, and now that Saks Off 5th will be opening just a few blocks away from a glitzy upcoming new full-line Saks at Brookfield Place in the Financial District, the outlets are now, officially no longer a dirty little secret to be shielded from full-price customers.
What is to become of the longstanding Urban Outfitters remains to be seen. While there is a smaller unit further up Broadway near 99th Street, the popular chain will have no other West Side stores above 14th Street after July. Neither retailer has yet confirmed the moves, but if Urban Outfitters is looking to stay in the area, Loehmann's old digs in the Ansonia still appear to be available.
Bloomie’s Heading to UWS With New Discount Concept (Commercial Observer/NYO)
It's been about a year since Robert Graham arrived in Manhattan with a Bleecker Street boutique, ans, apparently it has been so successful that he is signing up for another. WWD tells us that the designer is bringing his multicolor pattern clashing sportswear to The Shops at Columbus Circle this spring. The 743 square foot shop will feature all of the label's shirting, and accessory lines as well as sportswear for men and women. Fragrance, loungewear and tailored clothing are expected to appear as they launch this coming fall. No word yet on the exact location, but most of the mall is considered prime these days, especially as the date of Nordstrom's opening inches ever closer. Sure, it's still a deep pit at 57th and Broadway at the moment, but as soon as the department store and its massive tower are completed, the already desirable urban mall will become even more prized for retailers, so Graham is a few years ahead of the game.
There have been rumors for months that the popular home chain Bed Bath & Beyond was getting ready to open a second Upper West Side store, and if they are true, it looks like the opening may not be far off. About a Year ago, stories began circulating that the residents of a high-rise apartment building at 100 West 93rd Street and Columbus Avenue were receiving coupons for a new branch of the chain set to open in the new cluster of stores being constructed at the base of their building. The store's representatives refused to confirm the news, and the actual building seemed at the time to be a long way from completion. Now, the plywood has come down, and the entrance to the kind of basement space that would comply with Columbus Avenue's new storefront zoning regulations appears to be nearly finished. The folks at Bed Bath & Beyond are still mum, but that's not unusual for chains these days who often want the element of surprise to help publicize new stores.
At any rate, something is ready to go in down there, and it looks like it may only be a matter of weeks before we find out for sure.
When we heard that the famous French Dijon mustard brand Maille had opened a mustard boutique on Columbus Avenue a couple of weeks ago, we though it was in interesting marketing idea for a pop-up, but wondered whether or not it was a sustainable long-term concept to devote prime real retail estate to selling a single condiment, especially one that is available in most supermarkets for around $4 a jar.
Well, It turns out that customers had no such misgivings. They saw the store, said, "Yum! Mustard!" and started buying.
We stopped in a few days after it opened and saw an elegant little shop with shelves filled with all sorts of flavored mustards in single jars and packaged into pricey gift sets along with an assortment of olive oils and vinegars —so really, more than just one condiment, the shop does offer all of the ingredients for a very expensive vinaigrette. With a tasting bar, all sorts of mustard accessories and refills on tap, the store is patterned more after a perfumery than any kind of food store. And customers are literally eating it up.
We stopped into the shop yesterday, and noticed a distinct sparseness on the shelves compared to just a week or so earlier. Many of the gift sets were completely sold out even at $40 to $60 for three or four half-sized 3.8 oz. jars, but where else are you going to find yummy flavors like bleu cheese, morel mushrooms or walnuts and white wine to name a few. Sound weird? They are not. They are indeed yummy and tempting, especially the black truffle mustard on tap, but, as one learns over time, sometimes what looks tasty on the gourmet counter gathers dust once it makes it into one's own kitchen. Or maybe it's just overkill for a turkey sandwich.
So, after visiting the mustard store, The Shophound walked a block across town to pick up some bananas at Trader Joe's and discovered a delightful new item, the "Mustard Miscellany" package of four 7 oz. jars of Dijon mustard —imported from France— featuring intriguing flavors like black currant, chablis, Provençal, and basil for a mere $6.99. No, there wasn't any bleu cheese or black truffle, and possibly our palate is not so refined as to be able to discern the difference between fancy French mustard and somewhat less fancy French mustard, but, you know, $6.99.
In a pinch, it'll do pretty damn well.
Maille New York 185 Columbus Avenue at 68th Street, Upper West Side
Next Year's Fall 2015 shows coming in February to IMG's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week will be the last ones at that location. This week, the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of community Groups suing Lincoln Center over the leasing of the public Damrosch Park to private organizations like IMG as well as longtime park user The Big Apple Circus, so when MBFW's contract runs out after the next round of shows, it will have to look for a new venue.
The court ruling hardly matters to IMG. They were already planning not to renew due to New York's fashion community's reception of the Lincoln Center tents. Despite all sorts of practical improvements, heavy sponsorship presence and a cold, impersonal ambiance put off designers who continued to defect to other venues around the city leaving a dwindling handful of major players still willing to take advantage of the once vital central show venue. Now, New York Fashion Week looks much like it did before the original tents were ever proposed in Bryant Park by the CFDA. Shows all over town often located at the designers' whims forcing exhausted industry professionals to criscross Manhattan racking up cab, or now, Uber, fares, only now there are three times as many shows often double and even triple or quadruple booked at any given time slot.
And that's probably what it is going to look like for a few seasons to come. Today's WWD reports that IMG is looking at multiple locations for the new home of MBFW, which suggests that some shows might be uptown while others might be downtown or in various midtown locations, subverting the concept of having a central Fashion Week headquarters to making it easier to take in the most important shows in comfort without constant travel. Eventually, Fashion Week is expected to take a permanent home in the Hudson Yards development that is currently under construction, but that is years away, and other locations fit for multiple tents seem to be in short supply —even shorter now that the court has eliminated many other potential public spaces including Fashion Week's original home in Bryant Park. How it will all shake out remains to be seen, but September's Spring 2016 shows look like they will turn out to be New York's most far flung to date.
As regular readers know, The Shophound sat out last weeks coverage of the Alexander Wang x H&M in-store launch because, at this point, we felt like we had a pretty good idea what kind of frenzy to expect, and by all reports we were right. Our friends at RACKED noted yesterday that there was a small trove of the collaboration spotted in one of the SoHo H&M stores, so when we were passing through The Shops at Columbus Circle, we stopped in to see what dregs were left in that store. Well, there were more than just dregs. We saw three racks packed with goods and while it was fairly random, we saw multiple units of a few major pieces incluing the Padded Leather Jackets for both men and women and quite a few shoe boxes. Today, when we were out checking on the big new TOPSHOP on Fifth Avenue (more on that later), we popped into the current biggest H&M Flagship in the world (or North America, or whatever) at 48th Street and found a whole corner of the main floor packed with leftover Wang. Possibly some of it is returned goods from customers with second thoughts, but there's enough there for customers who think they totally missed out on the event to get some nice pieces without resorting to eBay scalpers selling the collection at inflated prices. Again, it's a random mix, but there were a good amount of the Women's Parka and the Men's Windbreaker with removable down vests, several stretchy dresses, a bunch of Whistle Rings and quite a few of the leather pieces and various sweats and tanks amongst the racks. Also, tons of shoes. The other Fifth Avenue store at 52nd Street had nothing, so clearly there's some consolidation going on. While we would love to canvas the entire city to see what's left at all the other branches, well, we aren't going to, but at this point, it seems likely that the other larger branches will have a few racks of the collection left, at least for the moment. Of course, none of it has been marked down yet, but it's worth noting that H&M tends not to like having these big collaborations linger in stores for too long, so price reductions could come sooner than you might expect. Keep your eyes peeled for that, but in the meantime, if you thought you totally missed out on anything good from this collection, it's worth taking another look this weekend.
Crumbs has died.
Now, Crumbs will come back to life.
Amid much speculation that the cupcake chain's death was not at all permanent, the bakery chain is set to reopen its first set of doors in September at the Columbus Square retail complex between 98th and 99th Streets on the Upper West Side (above). The assets of the chain have been purchased at a very brief bankruptcy auction by CNBC TV personality Marcus Lemonis in joint venture with Fischer Enterprises LLC.
They were the only bidders.
Lemonis is know for a TV show in which he turns around failing businesses, so don't be surprised if the triumphant return of Crumbs becomes a TV show at some point. Lemonis's plans include broadening the product offering at Crumbs to include coffee and other beverages as well as the possible incorporation of other food brands from chains owned by Fischer like Matt's Cookies, the Key West Key Lime Pie Co., and Dippin Dots Ice Cream. So far, the tiny Columbus Avenue location, which at little more than a display counter and register may not be big enough for much additional product, is the only location announced to reopen, ultimately, 28 of the shop's 49 New York shops are expected to resume business. For the moment, however, Crumbs fans will have to plan a trek up to Columbus Square sometime in September for their first sweet treat from the revived chain.
It's rare to report the expansion of a new bookstore these days, but here is the rare case of an independent retailer failing to reach a lease renewal agreement and being replaced not by a banal bank or chain store, but by a different independent business who has survived its industry being clobbered by corporate chain store competition over the past couple of decades. Antique store Olde Good Things has left its Upper West Side store at 450 Columbus Avenue after choosing not to renew its longtime lease. DNAinfo reports that it will be replaced by Book Culture, the Morningside Heights-based bookstore familiar to the Columbia University community as well as book consumers from all over the city who have eschewed Amazon and Barnes & Noble in search of the increasingly rare charms and services of the independent book seller. It is not yet clear whether or not this is an additional store for the micro-chain or a relocation of one of its current locations, but it does represent a new neighborhood for the store —one that appears to have resigned itself to having just the one Barnes & Noble on Broadway as its main bookstore. The affluent enclave should, however be fertile ground for the store as an area most likely to offer a sufficient customer base which has yet to embrace the Kindle.
Book Culture will arrive under a bit of a cloud, however, having caused something of a stir uptown earlier this year when it dismissed five workers amidst the organization of a new union for the store. Picketing ensued which was unseemly for a store devoted to representing broad points of view in its offerings. Since then, the store's owners have promised to support the new union if it is recognized by the National Labor Relations board, and have dismissed the supervisors who "not willing to continue to perform the role of supervisors within the new environment of having the unionized work force." We shall see if the scandal follows Book Culture to its new location. No opening date has been announced for the new bookstore.