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Username: Miketoronto

Post Number: 521
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 12:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is from STL Today. Great news for St Louis.
I think this article is good for you Detroit guys, considering the thread about a downtown mall.
As you can see, Downtown St Louis is reviving by grassroots retail. Enjoy the article.
Downtown is developing a retail personality
By Gail Appleson

Loretta Saey (on couch) and Cindy Buhse (right) shop among the hip and urban products at Atom.
(Kevin Manning/P-D)

Foot traffic still may be too light to draw a Barnes & Noble or a Banana Republic to downtown St. Louis, but the good news is that downtown's retail environment is evolving into something other than typical chain stores.

Instead, it's a landscape dotted with independent shops offering artsy, unusual and sometimes exclusive apparel, home furnishings and other merchandise that can't be found at most malls.

While national retailers would help lure shoppers downtown, the locally owned boutiques are attracting upscale shoppers who are looking for something different — and are willing to spend more to get it.

Even Macy's got the message, adding updated and pricier merchandise to its Olive Street store. Advertisement

One example is the recent arrival downtown of INC International Concepts, Macy's fashion-forward brand. The label was not offered at the downtown store in September when it was converted from a Famous-Barr, but it was available at some Macy's stores in west St. Louis County and other select locations.

"INC was not originally plan­ned for downtown, but our customers are looking for more-fashionable merchandise," said Bev Shea, the general manager downtown. "Customers are going online and commenting on what they wanted in that store, and we are reacting."

Macy's extended its downtown store's hours Thursday night to kick off the INC offerings. Among the other brands it recently began to carry or soon will offer downtown are Perry Ellis and American Rag for men and Jones New York Signature for women.

The downtown store also has begun to hold makeup demonstrations by prestigious cosmetic companies such as Chanel and Clarins. In the fall, the store also will offer certain home goods from the Martha Stewart Collection, which will be new to the entire Macy's system.

Meanwhile, upscale boutiques are opening throughout the down­town area and more are on the way, said Jim Cloar, president of the Downtown St. Louis Partnership. Indeed, an additional 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space downtown will come online this year.

Cloar said the openings of independent home-furnishing and apparel stores along with restaurants fit the recruitment plan launched in 2003 by the partnership, the city and the St. Louis Development Corp. MORE
POLL: What would bring you downtown to shop?

"For downtown retailing to be successful, it has to be unique," Cloar said. "I wouldn't say it's a slam dunk from now on, but it's going better than we expected."

He said the upscaling at ­Macy's and the momentum from the opening of boutiques are important elements that will help draw national retailers to a remodeled St. Louis Centre and the planned Ballpark Village adjacent to Busch Stadium.

"I think nationals will start looking now. It might not be today, but maybe in the not-too-distant future," Cloar said.

Retailers move east

Among the independent retailers planning to open downtown locations this year is English Living, a traditional-furniture retailer with its main location in Manchester and a smaller store in Ladue.

The retailer will close its Manchester store, but will double its size this summer by taking a space with 17,500 square feet at 1520 Washington Avenue.

English Living plans to add European lines with names like "Paris Loft," "City Living" and "Tuscan Living." The new spot also will have a tearoom with a separate entrance that will be open for breakfast and traditional afternoon tea.

Another retailer — Good Works of University City, which sells reasonably priced contemporary furniture and accessories in the Delmar Loop — this summer will open a second location at 905 Washington. The 7,800-square-foot store will allow Good Works to offer an expanded selection of furnishings, carpets, lighting and gifts.

Cloar said several other retailers also will open on Washington later this year, but he would not identify them.

Cloar also said he wouldn't be surprised by an announcement about retailers opening on the ground floor of the Ninth Street Garage, at Ninth and

Olive streets, after construction is finished in a month or so.

Shaping a personality

A few weeks ago, Marcia Masulla opened Masulla, a women's designer-apparel shop, at 1301 Washington. She said the retailers, restaurants and galleries are shaping a personality for downtown.

"It's a different sense of community," Masulla said, adding that local entrepreneurs aren't the only ones who notice it.

Just last weekend, two New Yorkers who were in town for a convention visited the store and commented about how downtown is emerging from the relative desolation they observed only a few years ago.

"They said they had actually felt sorry for St. Louis when they were here last time," ­Masulla said. "Now, they said it reminded them of Tribeca when it was beginning its upswing." Tribeca is a trendy neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.

Another example of urban transformation happened just as Macy's was holding a party downtown to celebrate its conversion.

One block east, the home-furnishing, jewelry and accessory boutique Atom was opening its doors at 513 Olive in what used to be a Mexican restaurant.

Cheese out, jewelry in

"We had to chisel cheese from the floor," said jewelry designer Kristi Noory, who owns the store with her sister Wendy, an interior and commercial designer who specializes in corporate and private jets. The store also has an online business, www.atom-designs.com.

The 1,500-square-foot space now features cool slate floors, stone walls, a chandelier and an elaborate staircase leading up to a small loft selling area. The merchandise mix includes Kristi Noory's jewelry designs.

The sisters said they get a broad range of customers, including lawyers with offices nearby, conventioneers and loft residents.

"We're very busy on Saturday," said Wendy Noory, who pointed out that the store is in the same block as a Starbucks shop. "We even open at 9:30 and get early morning shoppers who come in after their coffee stops."

A mix of customers

Across downtown, the 800-square-foot Masulla is drawing a surprising mix of customers. Masulla said her business plan envisioned women shoppers aged 23 to 43, but customers have ranged from 18 to 60.

"And there have been men, too, and they are buying for their wives and girlfriends," she said.

"Last week a husband who works at the U.S. Bank building came in looking for a gift for his wife. He said he thought she would appreciate a birthday present from a downtown store much more than from" a chain store.

Also in the 1300 block of Washington are Boxers and Beverly's Hill, which opened in June after moving from the Central West End. Boxers sells men's swimsuits, casual wear and undergarments. Beverly's Hill is the female side of the business, offering a selection of lingerie and other items.

There also are two related Internet retail businesses in the rear of the twin stores operating as www.mensunderwearstore.com and www.123underwear.com. The entire operation is housed in 6,000 square feet.

"Look at all the people walking by," said Michael Russina, co-owner of the Internet operations. "This is fantastic. When we first opened, you could count all the people on one hand. It's happening faster than we thought."

gappleson@post-dispatch.com | 314-340-8331
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Username: Eric_c

Post Number: 930
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 12:32 pm:   Edit PostDelete Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jesus, they still have a downtown department store in St. Louis?! Macy's, no less?

Tell you what...we can trade our Barnes and Noble or Borders for their Macy's.
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Username: Sknutson

Post Number: 841
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 12:54 pm:   Edit PostDelete Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I clicked on the link to the men's underwear store, and now I'm having trouble working....
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Username: Crew

Post Number: 1187
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 12:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sknutson, hehehe, me too
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Username: Rrl

Post Number: 773
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - 1:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

One possible reason St.Louis still has a downtown department store is the city is/was the HQ for the May Company, the retailing conglomerate/giant that purchased Marshall Fields back in 2004. When May Co. was purchased by Federated in 2005, all MF's became Macy's.

Too bad the Hudson's leadership couldn't have been on the leading edge of all the consolidation & buy-outs that have been going on all these years; we still might have our favorite hometown department store.

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