Village Fixture Avignone Chemists
Gets Pushed Out

AvignoneDNAinfoGreenwich Village's fabled charm is getting squeezed away block by block. Avignone Chemists, a bright, stalwart Village fixture at the corner of Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue since 1929, is closing to avoid a tripling of its monthly rent.
This is not surprising news, sadly, but it begs the question: Is there any future for a charming independently owned retail establishment in a nice neighborhood? Avignone's impending closure follows similar stories about beloved neighborhood haunts like the now closed Manatus Restaurant on Bleecker and Bonnie Slotnick's famous cookbook store being pushed out by landlords (usually brand new ones) who are swift to kick out longtime tenants in favor of potentially finding higher paying tenants —even if that means months or even years of empty storefronts before such a tenant is found. Slotnick's small but unique business was saved at the last minute by a fan who happened to be willing to rent her a suitable space at a suitable rate, but most businesses are not so lucky.
Avignone's current owner, Abe Lerner, who has run the store for the past 30 years, claims that his entire block is now owned by one company, Force Capital Management, which seems to think it can find better use for the 1,700 square foot space. "I've spent half my life here," Lerner tells DNAinfo. "I've known many of these people for 30 years; I've seen a lot of kids grow up. A lot of these people have become friends — they're not just customers, they're friends."
Lerner has until April 30th to vacate the space, and while he hopes to move to a new location as close to the old one as possible, though finding an affordable one in the immediate vicinity seems unlikely. Potential tenants at 281 Sixth Avenue are reportedly being offered the space for $60,000 per month. No word yet on any potential takers.

Avignone Chemists, Village Staple Since 1929, Closing After Rent Hike  (DNAinfo)


Tomas Maier and James Perse
Fill In Some Blanks On Bleecker

A stroll down Bleecker Street brought some news to The Shophound's eye this afternoon. We had been wondering who was going to wind up in the highly desirable and spacious corner store that Juicy Couture left vacant at no. 368 early last year, and it turns out that longtime Bleecker Street denizen James Perse is moving in (pictured above). Perse has maintained two separate men's and women's stores on Bleecker for several years now, and it is currently unclear whether he will be moving one or both stores into the bigger space, or if he will be using it for another concept entirely. We won't have to wait for long to find out. The windows are promising a February opening.

A few steps uptown, we discovered that Jimmy Choo has abandoned the West Village, for now at least. In its place, however designer Tomas Maier is bringing his second Manhattan store to No. 407 (pictured below). While his first, which opened just a few months ago on Madison Avenue, is well located to serve tourists and stylish East Siders, this new one will be perfectly positioned to bring Maier's laid-back chic to the downtowners who won't travel north of 23rd Street. No opening date has been announce, but it's not a huge store, and we are guessing it will be ready for shoppers sometime in the spring.


Get A Free Manicure
At Marc Jacobs All Weekend

Bleecker Street will be a little bit more crowded this weekend as the Marc Jacobs Beauty store will be providing free manicures from Noon to 8 PM starting now until Sunday. See a selection of colors above, and pick the one that suits you best. If Esquire's SoHo Mega-Pop-Up is not your cup of tea, then perhaps this sort of giveaway may be more in your wheelhouse —or go to both! It's the 21st Century after all, and seeing as how Marc is the sort of designer who routinely wears kilts and famously attended the Met Ball in a transparent lace dress, we're pretty sure that a manicure will be offered to any and all comers. 

Free Manicures at Marc Jacobs Beauty through Sunday May 18,385 Bleecker Street at Perry Street, West Village (@MarcJacobsIntl via Racked)


Jean-Michel Cazabat's Bleecker Street Boutique Turns To ASH
+ More Turnover Nearby

If large parts of Manhattan are suffering from too much available retail real estate, than there are still a few other streets where stores do not sit empty for too long. Bleecker Street between Christopher and Bank Streets in the West Village has been one of them, but even there, a few stores are out of commission or undergoing transition. The theory on this street has recently been that any time a retail space becomes available, Marc Jacobs will swoop in and take it over, but even he may have maxed out on the West Village as his company turns its eye to larger stores in other Manhattan neighborhoods. There are some spaces coming up that Marc may not be as quick to absorb. For starters, the glamorous Jean-Michel Cazabat shoe boutique is now an ASH shoes sale pop-up store.
Is Cazabat out of business?
You can still buy his shoes at Barneys and other stores, but you may notice that his prices have jumped. The designer has moved his production back to Italy from China, which also pushed him back into the luxury category, precipitating a split from his backers who also own the Ash brand and have smoothly moved it into the Bleecker Street space —for the moment, at least.

Corporate changes have had an effect on several other Bleecker Street stores as well. Kurt Geiger's management has bought the company out from parent Jones Group which is currently being dismantled piece by piece, so that shoe store has remained in place. Juicy Couture, however, has been sold and and has exited its sizable store (pictured below) which remains under the control of former parent Kate Spade & Co. (formerly Fifth & Pacific, formerly Liz Claiborne & Co.). Will Kate move in? It seems like too good of a space to pass up, but for now, the sign in the window says the empty store is available. A few blocks away, brother shop Jack Spade is covered in green painted plywood, but its website lists it as temporarily under renovation, so we expect it to return soon enough.

Sadly, one well liked store seems to be gone from Bleecker for good. Freeman's Sporting Club appears to have exited its store at no. 343. Though it is still listed on the website, the shop is empty and available. FSC had a challenging time in the West Village. It's first location on the corner of Bleecker and Christopher streets had to be moved with little notice shortly after opening when the building was declared structurally unsafe —always a bummer. Happily, the store was able to swiftly move half a block to 343 where a temporary store eventually became a permanent outpost. That space, however, is now empty and available. East of Christopher Street, there are more vacancies including the former J.A.C.H.S. boutique*J.Press York Street sells a label which is reportedly being discontinued by the uber-traditional menswear retailer. Will J.Press fill it with a selection from its classic assortments this Fall? As its flagship is still under an extended renovation, it would give its loyal New York customers a local place to shop the brand albeit in an inconvenient location, though it's more likely that the space will be marketed to other retailers. How long some of these spaces take to be filled will say a lot about Bleecker Street's status to retailers in the coming months. If the are leased quickly, then the stretch remains near the top of Manhattan's most desirable shopping locations, but if we start to see the kind of vacancies that are plaguing the Upper East Side and the nearby Meatpacking District, then Bleecker's heyday may be coming to an end. Have a look as some of these storefronts in the gallery below.
*Correction: The J.A.C.H.S. Store is not in fact closed and is open for business. We mistook it for different empty store on the same block.

  • NotJuicyAnymore
  • JackSpadePlywood
  • FCS-Bleecker

New York Paradox: The Post Addresses New York's Empty Store Problem


Annick Goutal To Displace
Nothing On Bleecker Street

An exclusive French fragrance brand is coming to Bleecker Street, and, in a rare state of affairs, it isn't kicking out another store to do it. Annick Goutal, is opening a store in a 900 square-foot space at 397 Bleecker right next to Bond No.9 that hasn't housed a retail store since the early 20th Century. Up until now, it has been one of a few residential townhouse spaces that have broken up the string of shops on Bleecker. The skyrocketing value of retail real estate on that precious section of Bleecker Street has sparked a conversion of some of those ground floors with more likely to follow. About half of the townhouses there between 11th and Perry Streets have no retail space making a substantial shop-free stretch on the eastern side of the block —but perhaps not for long. You can compare the before (below) and after (above) views and see that the old-fashioned storefront for the shop is actually brand new construction, and it is likely that we will see more similar conversions in neighboring buildings as apartment leases come up for renewal.

AnnickGoutalInviteBack to the new store that is being finished, it is reported to be Annick Goutal's first in the United States. Until now the brand (now owned by Amore Pacific) has been available through luxury stores like Barneys and Bergdorf's (though we vaguely remember a Madison Avenue shop sometime in the 1990s). Copyright lawyers will remember the label for beating a lawsuit from Elizabeth Taylor over the "Passion" trademark in a conflict that ended up legally delineating the difference between the "luxury" retailers who sold Goutal and the mass market chains that would be selling Taylor's brand. Old copyright issuse aside, Annick Goutal will be joining Nars, Diptyque, M.A.C., Jo Malone, Marc Jacobs Cosmetics and the aforementioned Bond No.9 in creating an increasing presence for fragrance and beauty on this particular, ever-evolving West Village strip. The store is expected to open in the Spring and is promising special Grand Opening invitations for those who log on to the Annick Goutal website or scan the QR code on the store's front door (pictured at left)

Annick Goutal (Official Site)


Tracy Reese Shutters Her West Village Flagship & Hunts For A New One

RACKED_TracyReeseFLOTUS Favorite designer Tracy Reese closed her Hudson Street flagship boutique last weekend, according to our friends at Racked, and it doesn't look like it was her choice. Rent hikes are a safe bet to blame for the abrupt end of her 10-year run at the location, not unlike what has happened recently to many non-chain stores in the Village and Chelsea. 10 years is a nice run for such a store but also a standard length for retail leases. Something clearly stood in the way of a smooth renewal. Though the closing doesn't represent weakness in her overall business —she just showed her Fall 2014 collection at Lincoln Center during Fashion Week— Reese doesn't have an extensive network of boutiques. In fact, this store was her only U.S. location, and she promises to be looking to open a replacement as soon she can find the right space. Faithful customers will have to trek to Japan's Omotesando Hills shopping center in central Tokyo if they continue to crave that exclusive Tracy Reese retail experience, or just wait until, hopefully, the designer finds a new home.

Tracy Reese Has Packed Up Her Meatpacking District Flagship (Racked)


Couples Only Edition

03SHOP1-articleLargeThe Critical Shopper is back in today's Thursday Styles in the form of Jon Caramanica whose take on the recently opened West Village boutique, Personnel of New York centers on the under-investigated phenomenon of "couples shopping". According to Caramanica, Personnel, has been designed expressly to be shopped by pairs, as the small shop is split between men's and women's merchandise. and created by a husband and wife team of merchants. Apparently, this is to facilitate a kind of fashion co-dependence that is supposed to develop once one has become attached to another,

For these couples (Personnel sells both men’s and women’s clothing) this store is a problem solver and a knowing, warm embrace. It is possible to be post-fashion, the store proposes, and still be mindful of what you wear in a way that quietly acknowledges a working understanding of style without flashing it in neon lights. The looks prioritize comfort, but they don’t lean on it like a crutch.

We're not quite sure exactly what "post-fashion" is, but it doesn't sound good. Perhaps Personnel is where one should go when one half of a couple needs a little partner-approved fashion therapy.

Critical Shopper: Like This Jacket, Honey? By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Personnel of New York 9 Greenwich Avenue between Christopher & West 10th Streets, West Village


Beauty Baby Edition

Critical-9-5It's been a whole month since we last heard from a Critical Shopper in the Thursday Styles, so it looks like Alexandra Jacobs is making up for lost time by cramming two reviews into one column. Call it a Fashion Week special. She starts off at the new Marc Jacobs Beauty store on Bleecker Street, which is also the old Marc Jacobs Accessories store. Her main complaint is that the designer's brand new makeup collection seems to have a disturbingly juvenile preoccupation, suggesting that in trying to make a youthful, cool cosmetics line, he has come up with product names that sound like they are made for children. In fact, the customers she happens to come across are still in braces, so she may not be at all off-base. Most notably, however, we are pretty sure —no, we are positive— that when she describes the new line as "cannily of the moment in its transgender marketing" she really means to say "pan-gender marketing" which would refer to the fact that certain products, including lip balm and concealer, are designed to be used by men and women. Of course, transgender marketing does make it sound more daring, but that would mean the line is pitched to an extremely specific segment of the cosmetics market consisting of girls who were once boys and vice versa. Though certainly worthy of attention and respect, we are not totally sure that this is a large enough group to ensure the kind of sales volume and profits that Marc Jacobs and his backer LVMH have in mind.

That's not all. Our shopper also swung by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe's DreamDry blowout bar where for $30 plus tip she got a pouf-y Veronica Lake inspired do that "drew some perplexed stares walking on Avenue of the Americas". Whether that's a plus or a minus depends, we suppose, on how one feels about Sixth Avenue.

Critical Shopper: Beauty in the Eye of the Dreamer By Alexandra Jacobs
Marc Jacobs Beauty 385 Bleecker Street at Perry Street, West Village
DreamDry 35 West 21st Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Flatiron District


Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply Takes Over For Rugby

Yesterday saw the completion of Ralph Lauren's real estate remedy as his more popularly priced Denim & Supply brand took over the space that originally held the designer's defunct Rugby boutique on University place. It's as if he got rid of his fantasy version of collegiate wear and replaced it with something somewhat closer to what college kids actually wear. Whether the built-in NYU client base for the location will be shopping up a storm at Denim & Supply remains to be seen, but promoting the more casual, jeans-based brand seems to be a better strategy for the designer to court a younger customer.

RLDS-3This will be the first Denim & Supply shop in New York and the second in the U.S. after the recent Boston Rugby-store-conversion, with more to come as other locations of the folded chain get retrofitted for a new brand. Lauren's smartest move was to strip the former store's interior of its cluttery, whitewashed fixtures to open it up. The gutted aesthetic naurally works better for the new line, but of course the folks at Ralph Lauren turned around and fitted the newly stripped interior with more, different clutter. They are, after all, junkies for clutter at Ralph Lauren, but the new aesthetic at Denim & Supply is more surplus store-inspired, and not entirely unlike the way his RRL shops looked when that sub-brand debuted about 20 years ago before eventually morphing into a vintage-based collection (following the evolutions of Lauren's myriad brands can be exhausting).

RLDS-4Denim & Supply may well succeed as the Abercombie & Fitch/American Eagle killer that Rugby failed to become. The store is brimming with denim in every possible stage of distress from lightly faded to fully shredded with Indian fabric patches to multicolored paint-stained to brightly hued garment dyed versions. Then there are the cargo shorts in every possible camouflage or animal pattern, to be topped with chambray or maybe a polynesian print western shirt. Add some randomly placed American flags and plenty of bandannas and voilà! You have the Ralph Lauren formula for casual wear with a rock/hippie/boho edge. Expect to aee it replicated widely soon, possibly at a mall near you as the company is pushing hard for more freestanding shops for its own labels. With Abercrombie experiencing yet another wave of unfavorable PR on several fronts, The time might be right for the original Americana designer to step in and bring them down a peg or two.

Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply 99 University Place at 12th Street, Greenwich Village


Under-Prepped Edition

18zCRITICAL1-articleLargeThis week's Critical Shopper column sends Jon Caramanica down to Bleecker Street for his response to the new J.Press York Street boutique where he is essentially underwhelmed. His main concern is that the venerable retailer's new, younger line, should —according to our shopper— emphasize and amplify the most eccentric and daring aspects of the Preppy style it has represented for decades, but it doesn't exactly.

...none of the vibrant, lightning-bright color choices; none of the eyebrow-raising patterns; none of the insouciance of a wearer who directly correlates income level with risk-taking. Prep never apologized. Just ask all the less-privileged people underfoot.

Of course, whether or not the line's creative directors, Shimon and Ariel Ovadia, of the up and coming label Ovadia & Sons, share that point of view remains in question. They seem more concerned with remaking the classic J.Press look in trimmer cuts and more casual fabrics to maximize its commercial appeal to a younger, hipper customer, and to stores like Bloomingdale's which is also selling the line. It's not like there aren't enough designers already deconstructing the prepster. After all, the Gant Rugger shop is only a block or two up the street from J. Press York Street, along with Brooks Brothers' Black Fleece boutique. Still, our shopper does not leave the store empty handed. A blazing red barracuda jacket has caught his eye, amongst the copious Yale memorabilia, but that's really more of a James Dean look —not to be confused with preppy at all.

J.Press York Street 304 Bleecker Street between Grove & Barrow Streets, West Village
Critical Shopper: Preppy Gets a Tweak By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Today In Brand Estensions: J. Press Brings York Street To Bleecker Street