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12-09-2006
  181
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lucy92's Avatar
 
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story about filenes in todays wwd. info about the tj maxx designer scheme as well in here. im glad the new filenes store in boston will have fitting rooms!! i wont have to accidentally see women wearing pantyhose with no underwear at that location!


Filene's Basement: An Icon Expands Base
By David Moin
Filene's Basement, which is steeped in retail lore, is looking to the future.

The off-price chain has started an expansion program ó four stores are being launched this fall ó highlighted by the opening of a second Boston unit on Wednesday in the Back Bay neighborhood. It's being previewed this evening for special customers who get first crack at the goods, generally designer and brand name labels at 30 to 60 percent off regular prices.

The original flagship has been operating in the Downtown Crossing section of Boston for almost 100 years.

"Our roots are here in Boston," said Mark Shulman, president. "Downtown will always be our flagship and it's a fantastic store. But it's very much dated."

Dated is an understatement. The 125,000-square-foot flagship, opened in 1908, epitomizes bargain basement. It is on two below-ground levels, the floors and walls are bare, and the merchandise is piled high in bins with hand-scrawled lettering. There was no fitting room until 1989, and it was not unusual for women to slip pants on under a skirt, or even to disrobe in the aisles to try on a coveted designer piece.

Some women still take liberties for convenience, considering it's a big store with two selling floors and only one fitting room, on the lower level. The flagship is considered the third most popular tourist attraction in Boston (next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Fenway Park), drawing some 15,000 visitors a day, the company said. The store is legendary also because it piloted an automatic markdown policy that continues only at this location; in years past, it was tried at one or two other sites but discontinued because the policy is effective only in very high-traffic areas.

The new Back Bay store, at 497 Boylston Street, is a different story.

"We're treating it like a mini-flagship that will be reminiscent of the store on Union Square in New York City, but taken to the next level," Shulman said.

The branch will have carpeting, wainscoting, sconces, crown molding, contemporary fixtures, video monitors of fashion shows and mannequins in designer outfits, and there will be two doormen at the entrances on Newbury and Boylston Streets. There are also 24 fitting rooms. The Boylston Street entrance opens into the 8,000-square-foot men's department with designer suits, shirts, ties, sportswear, outerwear and basics. The 30,000-square-foot second level will house misses', junior and children's fashions, plus accessories, jewelry, men's and women's shoes and home goods. Industry sources estimated the store would do $25 million to $30 million in annual sales; the flagship, the top-volume unit in the chain, generates $60 million to $65 million in sales.

The 75,000-square-foot Union Square store, opened two years ago, is estimated to do $45 million to $50 million in annual volume, the sources said. Typical of other units, it's heavily merchandised with a wide variety of well-known designer and brand labels ó a few items from each, not entire collections.

On a recent visit, the store offered in women's Blue Cult jeans at $49.99, discounted from $150; DKNY jeans at $39.99, from $69; Jones New York hoodies at $29.99, from $59; Ralph Lauren cotton sweaters at $49.99, from $98, and Anne Klein wool viscose suits, originally $480, at $149.99. The most expensive designer items are flagged in outposts called The Vault, scattered around the store, and certain items are under lock and key, like a Bulgari bag at $2,500, marked down to $959.99. A Prada bag was marked down to $149.99 from $495.

The mix has been upgraded since Filene's Basement was bought out of bankruptcy in 2000 by Retail Ventures Inc., which also owns DSW Shoe Warehouse and Value City Department Stores.

"We put a premium on designer through the bridge and contemporary markets," representing about 25 percent of the business, said Shulman, a former Brooks Bros. chief operating officer.

Men's clothing is another major category, representing about 20 percent of volume, with strength in suits, sport coats, outerwear and young men's dress shirts, like those from Kors, marked down to $39.99 from $75.50, Shulman noted. The Basement also sells accessories, shoes, fragrance, luggage, gourmet food, children's wear, home goods and intimate apparel. About 10 to 15 percent of the goods are bought directly from factories in Europe; 10 percent from jobbers, and the rest from the market, which allows the Basement to sell the goods about 30 to 60 days after department stores start selling them.

"Our customer is very fashion-savvy and smart, and really wants better merchandise," Shulman said. "They just don't want to buy for the sake of the price. They really want of-the-moment fashion. That's a major difference from the way it was done in the past," when more of the goods were leftovers or "pack-aways" that could be stored in a warehouse, as required by vendors, for a year before being placed on a selling floor.

"This is the only off-pricer where the name recognition is enormous and synonymous with off-price designer goods, even more than Loehmann's," observed Isaac Lagnado, president of Tactical Retail Solutions, a market research and consulting company. "Everybody knows the Filene's Basement legend of disrobing in the aisle. It's the stuff of urban legend. There's a great possibility for growth, considering the Basement's relatively small volume."

Filene's Basement operates 27 units that generated $430 million in sales last year, but with Retail Ventures pushing expansion, volume is projected at more than $600 million by the end of 2007. Store openings are set for Springfield, Pa., on Sept. 21; Warrensville Heights, Ohio, on Oct. 26, and Levittown, N.Y., on Nov. 9. Another four or five are being planned for 2007. On Aug. 31, a store opened in Hunt Valley, Md. Before that, the last store opened was in March 2005 in Rockville, Md.

However, Lagnado pointed out that "as the chain gets bigger, the availability of recognizable merchandise becomes a bigger challenge. The larger it gets, the bigger the monster you have to feed." The growth of TJX and Marshalls, divisions of the $16 billion TJX Cos., has generated specialty production just for them, but it's not of a highly exclusive nature, Lagnado added. "Nautica, Jones, Liz essentially manufacture whole rungs of merchandise just for that channel."

TJX, however, is moving up the price spectrum, posing another potential challenge to Filene's Basement. According to Mark Montagna, vice president, specialty retail, at C.L. King & Associates, TJX is developing a better sportswear department that will increase the average ticket price at the chain. Initially, it will be tested in 25 stores, and, if all goes well, could be rolled out to a few hundred, but this year the impact won't be very material.

"Filene's Basement, along with Saks Off-5th and Last Call [Neiman's clearance outlet], is viewed as a class apart," Lagnado said. "It's less embarrassing to have your stuff sell there," as opposed to other off-price outlets. "TJX needs huge orders to push through the pipeline. That runs counter to real exclusive brands. Off-5th and Basement typically locate in more upscale centers or downtowns. TJX is much more populist."

There's another concern that comes with growth. The Back Bay store could cannibalize sales from the flagship. "In the beginning, there is always that chance," Shulman acknowledged. "But there really shouldn't be too much cannibalization because it's a very different customer that shops Back Bay."

The same issue arose when the Union Square store opened and was viewed as possibly siphoning sales from the unit just a few blocks uptown in Chelsea. "The first year, there was cannibalization. Now, Chelsea is exceeding the numbers it posted prior to the opening of Union Square," Shulman said. "It took a year for that to happen, and the store in Union Square is doing great." Filene's Basement operates a third Manhattan store, at Broadway and 79th Street.

At the Downtown Crossing flagship, sales slipped a bit after the Filene's store located right above the Basement closed. Filene's was a unit of Federated Department Stores, which sold the building to Vornado Realty. Vornado plans to renovate the property and add some other retailers. The Filene's Basement flagship will continue to operate and get a facelift, though the ambience will be predominately unchanged from bargain basement, Shulman said.

In Boston, the Filene's closing raised speculation about the Basement's future. "It required a lot of marketing and p.r. work to tell people we are here to stay,'' Shulman said. "We are not leaving."

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12-09-2006
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checked out the new basement store. i would compare it to the union square store. it was packed. not much room to maneuver around. the mens floor is teensy.
there doesnt seem to be too much designer items there. the "vault area " isnt behind glass which i think is annoying. and there werent any amazing designers.
the only thing i was really impressed by was maybe 5 luella bags in a glass case.
i think the downtown location is much more interesting. you are more likely to find singualar amazing showstopper pieces in the downtown location.
i suppose ill check out the store again whenever i am on newbury. its right by a nice H&M. but im not going to go out of my way to get there.

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12-09-2006
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good to know lucy, thanks. there was a big ad in the globe today about how it opens at 8am tomorrow and it almost tempted me, no way am I getting up at the crack of dawn now!

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12-09-2006
  184
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thanks for the article and review lucy!!
both are greatly appreciated

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19-09-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucy92
judy jetson, mass ave in cambridge. near porter square.

they gave mr. lucy92 nice textured cuts.
and they also gave Mr. Eugenius one of the worst cuts in his life, and dyed it blue w/o bleaching out the (natural) black first (of course, that was 5 years ago)..

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19-09-2006
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filenes basement downtown has some nice see by chloe and chloe items. nice jackets. 399 for winter coats. thats not too terrible i guess.

also some more marc by marc jacobs items.

also lots of krizia and victor/victoria items. i do not know whey these brands exist anymore.

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20-09-2006
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everything at H&M's downtown store is 10% off tommorow evening for "college night". no ID necessary of course.

i guess 10% off is better than nothing.

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09-10-2006
  188
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Pop Up Vintage Shop-SUNDAY-10.15.06- BOSTON

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09-10-2006
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^^interesting.. thanks for bringing that in

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11-10-2006
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this isn't shopping related but rather boston related...

I just got in invite in the mail today from the MFA for an exhibit I had no idea was even being held, I feel clueless! Here is the info from their webpage:

Quote:
Fashion Show:
Paris Collections 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006 - Sunday, March 18, 2007

Paris is the undisputed center of the fashion world, and "Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006" demonstrates why fashion remains a fine art. Featuring runway garments from the spring and fall/winter collections of ten influential couturiers and designers, the exhibition explores the ideas and inspirations motivating Paris fashion today, and why, in an age of globalization and instantaneous communication, this venerable city remains the fashion capital.

The city has been a magnet for stylish men and women since the seventeenth century, but the French fashion industry has evolved considerably over the centuriesóand never more than in the last few years. Recent assessments of the current state of Paris fashion have varied widely, with some pundits announcing its death, and others claiming that it is closer to fine art than ever before.

The designers highlighted in this exhibitionóAzzedine Alaia, Hussein Chalayan, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Maison Martin Margiela, Olivier Theyskens for Rochas, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf, and Yohji Yamamotoóbring a unique and clear vision to their work, while still maintaining the high level of craftsmanship for which Paris is justly famous.

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11-10-2006
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i heard about that. there is also going to be a fashion photography exhibit at the same time.

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12-10-2006
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^ is anyone thinking about attending? on another note, when does fall sale/clearance start (for high end clothing)? from what i remember, it starts in november?? i was able to get some great bargains last year from giorgio/emporio armani, gucci, and ralph lauren!.. please help! TIA

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12-10-2006
  193
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i definitely want to get to the mfa at some point to see it.... i'll prob drag some of my cousins and sister :p

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12-10-2006
  194
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Oh wow. I had no idea about this. I'm definitely going.

(I'm a newbie to Boston by the way.)

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12-10-2006
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I LOVE "Americans in Paris" in MFA. Putting "Madame X" and "Mrs. Henry White" together for comparison was quite intriguing. I will definitely attend the Fashion exhibition. Members' tickets are available since 10/1. The fashion photography exhibition will begin on 11/18/6 and end on 3/25/07.


Last edited by pasfoti; 12-10-2006 at 05:11 PM.
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