Sunday, February 5, 2012

A New Store Grand Opening

Just about the time Zoe opened in April of last year, the Hallmark store on King Street announced that they were closing.  There was a great deal of speculation as to what might go into the space.  Our curiosity was soon satisfied when we found out that that an Anthropologie store would occupy that space.

I had very mixed emotions about this revelation.  Prior to opening a store, I had been an Anthropologie shopper myself.  I always looked forward to receiving their beautiful catalogue each month and had ordered several great clothing pieces over the years.  As I learned more about the fashion and retail business, I found out that several of the brands that I carry at Zoe were also brands carried at Anthropologie.  We both shared a desire to deliver stylish and unique pieces.  

Of course, many more people know the Anthropologie brand than know the Zoe brand.  Would the addition of a chain retailer be a new draw for people to come to Alexandria to shop or would it be a detriment to my business as people would go with the name they know?  And what did the ability of the chain retailers to pay higher rents do to the rental environment in this area?  

I was eager to see what the new store looked like and what it had to offer.  I did not have to wait long - my friend and neighbor Maggie had received an invitation to the private Grand Opening event on the Thursday night before their official Friday opening.  When she accepted, they asked her if she would like to bring a friend and she asked me to join her.  Of course, I said yes!

The event truly was invitation only - they were checking names against a list at the door.  The store was already bustling when we went in (the event was from 6:30 - 8:30).  The build out and layout was beautiful (someone told me afterward that they might use this store as a prototype for changes to other stores and introductions of new products).  The store had added a second level (more of a loft-sized space than a full second level) where they had some additional home goods and the dressing rooms.

We were impressed with their helpfulness and, especially, the food and drinks.  We had to ask about the catering company (a company out of DC called Spilled Milk) - it was top notch!  They were well-stocked with spring items (of course) and also had a small "Sale" area of winter items set up in the back.  Maggie had scoped out a cute strapless dress on line that she hoped to get at the store and we found it quickly.  She was going to try it on but the lines for the dressing rooms were crazy.  She decided to purchase it and try it on at home.

I enjoyed looking at the different clothing offerings and price points.  And, of course, their lovely displays.  One of my favorite moments was when someone complimented Maggie on her sweater (a LiaMolly that she had purchased at Zoe!)

Getting to see the space and offerings made me feel better about having the store in Old Town.  And I signed up for their mailing list again (all the better to keep tabs on their new arrivals and sales!)

Next up:  Preparing for Valentines Day at Zoe

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