Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First look at Banana Republic Edition

Banana Republic released a preview of what their new Edition accessories store will look like when it opens in Westfield San Francisco Center on May 15th.

According to the blurb, the inspiration for the store design was drawn from Madge's NYC apartment:

"The store is a very small space to make it feel very residential and intimate. We want the product to feel accessible and not museum-like. There is a "boulevard" of jewelry that you can touch and feel. The actual design inspiration for the boulevard was a picture of Madonna's NYC apartment which has a beautiful arched ceiling."

As for the product:

"75% of the store will be jewelry and handbags. 40% of the jewelry and hand bags will be limited edition with 100 or less pieces in the world!Our new initials jewelry collection is amazing and only available at Edition by Banana Republic. We also have a limited edition Indian Summer collection that uses semi-precious stones, such as green onyx and smoky quarts.As for handbags we have a wide collection, but the hand woven handbags with a geometric pattern are my personal favorite."

BR Insiders will get an invite to a pre-opening event on May 14th.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New stores coming to Tiburon

The Tiburon Ark highlights a couple of new stores that are due to open soon in downtown Tiburon.
  • Koze Beginnings is a childrens clothing outlet that is an offshoot of the Koze womenswear boutique, and is scheduled to open April 25 on Main Street.
  • Also opening on Main Street is a kitchen store - May Madison, while Tiburon Mail Services is fitting out new space at The Boardwalk center.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebrating Marin's green retail credentials on Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, which coincides with the grand opening celebration of the State's greenest grocery store, located not in Marin, but nearby Petaluma. Raley's new market has achieved a gold level Green Chill rating from the EPA, and has has advanced design features that allow it to use less refrigerant, electricity and water than typical supermarkets.

In Marin County, there are a couple of green retail projects worth mentioning. First prize goes to Hamilton Marketplace, which has several green innovations, including 2,000 square feet of solar panels, providing power for the common areas and parking lots, and estimated to save 31 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Northgate Mall's redevelopment is also designed with the environment in mind: "It's a whole new Northgate - the environmentally-friendly redesign will feel fresh, modern, and right for Marin County's discerning shopper." Northgate owner Macerich, which also owns The Village at Corte Madera, is targeting LEED certification for the project, and provides highlights of other sustainability initiatives on its corporate website.
Home Depot is giving away one free energy-efficient light CFL light bulb and a faucet aerator to each customer. Just don't drive to the store, otherwise it'll be somewhat counterproductive.
A special mention for Stefano's Pizzeria, which is still the only place to get a solar-powered pizza in the County.
And finally Proof Lab in Mill Valley, where you can buy skateboard wheels made from recycled ecothanes. As the blurb says, it's a "breakthrough in skateboarding sustainability".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gap scoops up Athleta brand

Gap has announced the purchase of Athleta, the women's yoga clothing and sportswear brand based out of Petaluma. Athleta's products have to date only been available online or by catalog, and there is no word as to whether that will continue, or whether the line will be sold through the group's stores.

Update: Athleta now linked-up on the Gap online shopping portal.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DeLano's Market: don't buy new, buy recycled!

Great to see that DeLano's Market is doing something to help the environment. "We're Going Green" proclaims their full page ad in the local newspaper.

" takes less energy to manufacture a recycled product than a brand new one. So if you buy our recycled products, you'll help energize a market and conserve energy along the way."
One question Mr DeLano: exactly which part of the chicken is recycled...?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Up the Junction

Tam Junction is located in the southern part of Mill Valley, where the Shoreline Highway intersects with Almonte Blvd. It's a busy junction, especially on summer weekends as San Franciscans pass through on their way out to Stinson Beach, and it's home to 20-30 commercial and retail businesses that make a living from the passing traffic and from the local Tam Valley community.
It's not the most glamorous retail destination in Marin, but it has it's own character. The Arco station right on the intersection has the cheapest gas in the county, and is always busy. There's the iconic Oriental Rug House, famous for its never-ending 'going-out-of-business' sale. Funnily enough, now that there's a recession, the Rug House is no longer going out of business. Perhaps the marketing pitch doesn't work when everyone else is going out of business too.
Tam Junction has no pretensions. It's not trying to be a tuscan village. It doesn't pretend to want people to walk around or take any pleasure in the surroundings. It's a good old American strip mall, where you drive up to the store front, get what you came for and drive off again. It's got a Subway, Starbucks, Dominos, chinese food, hair salons, nail salons, beauty salons, massage parlors, more massage parlors and yes even more massage parlors. There's a bike shop, a surf shop, a dentist, dance studios and karate studios. There's a Walgreens and a DeLano's market, dog kennels, building supplies, a coin store and a psychic. There's piles of trash, vacant lots, signs everywhere and the sky is full of wires and pylons. Enjoy the photos:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tracking the recession in Marin

The California Board of Equalization recently released data on taxable retail sales for the first quarter of 2008. Yes, it's a little old and yes it would be nice if they released it sooner. But I picture the Board of Eq. consisting of three elderly clerks who tot-up each retail store's sales in giant ledgers, with the results passing through several committees before they can be released.

Anyway, the details for Q1 2008 are of interest because back then it was becoming clear that we were in a recession. The credit markets were still paralyzed, the housing market was stuffed, unemployment was rising and a few retailers were looking shaky and talking about profit warnings. Also, gas prices were rocketing, causing people to cut back on travel and car purchases.

The chart below shows that in Q1 2008 taxable sales at retail outlets in Marin fell by 3.9%, or $29.3 million compared to Q1 2007. This is similar to the decline in California as a whole, which saw a 4.5% fall in total sales.

The next table details where the recession was starting to hurt. The stores that were suffereing were those that depend on a strong housing market. Home Furnishings and Building Materials each saw declines in excess of 11% over the previous year. Motor Vehicles was the other big loser, with a sales hit of 11.6%, which we know continued and led to the closure of a number of car dealers across the county. Winners are the gas companies, with a 14.6% gain on the back of rising prices.

Interesting to see that not all retailers were suffering back at the beginning of 2008. Apparel sales were holding up, and people were still going out for dinner - sales at Eating and Drinking places increased by 3% over the previous year.

When we look at sales by city in the table below, it's the towns with the car dealers, and hardware and furniture stores that took the biggest hit. Half of the sales decline hit San Rafael, with the rest mostly falling on Novato and Corte Madera. Meanwhile, the second tier retail towns - Larkspur, Mill Valley, San Anselmo - managed healthy increrases in sales, as people continued to go out to eat, and buy their everyday necessities and services.
Come back this time next quarter to see how these trends play out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

CSI Marin

If you went to the mall this week in Marin there's a good chance you ended up in the middle of a crime scene:

And today's teaser: what's the difference between a bank robber and an attorney?

Keep safe, people.