Monday, December 6, 2010

Can the Marin Country Mart lure upscale Bay Area shoppers?

It's fascinating to see the first batch of new retailers appear at newly-landscaped Marin Country Mart. Owner Jim Rosenfield, who recently said that he had lost $7 million on the Brentwood Country Mart, has been successful in selling the Marin concept to some of his existing Brentwood tenants. So far, either open or in the pipeline, we have:
  • Malia Mills (designer swimwear)
  • Erica Tanov (Berkeley-based designer fashions)
  • James Perse (Los Angeles designer - women's, men's and home)
  • Twig and Fig (upscale stationery)
  • Miette (Cupcakes and pastries, small store in the San Francisco Ferry Building)
  • Rustic Bakery (Larkspur's own organic bakery, with stores on Magnolia Ave. and Grant Street, Novato)
  • Poppy Store (Kids designer clothing; another tenant of the original Brentwood Country Mart, and owned by "According To Jim's" wife Jenny Belushi)
Good to see lots of stores that will be new to Marin. There's a clear "upscale designer" theme emerging, that suggests the Mart is being positioned as a regional destination, which is something that no other Marin mall or shopping center has attempted.

The reason the Mart needs to pull customers from beyond the Marin area is that upscale designer boutiques only serve the top end of the market - the wealthiest 5%-10%. Marin is a wealthy place, but there are only 12,157 households that have incomes of $200,000 or more (according to the 2000 Census). That makes for a very thin market, which is why high-end fashion districts and malls are usually only found in the larger cities.

Los Angeles County, where the The Brentwood and Malibu Country Marts are located, had 108,889 households with incomes above $200,000 in 2000.
In the San Francisco Metropolitan Area (the Bay Area), there were over 150,000 households in this highest-income group. These shoppers tend to gravitate towards Filmore Street and Union Square in San Francisco, which are the two largest high-end fashion districts.

The owners of Marin Country Mart are trying to position the center to take a piece of this market. According to the Mart's marketing brochure there are 75,000 households with incomes above $200,000 within a 30-minute drive.  That suggests a trade area that extends as far as Oakland, southern San Francisco and Santa Rosa.

For the concept to work the center will need a critical mass of upscale retailers. The three existing anchor businesses at the center are 24-hour Fitness, the Marin Brewing Company and Bed Bath and Beyond. These are strong business that are local destinations in their own right. They anchor the center, fill the car park, and provide the bulk of the rent. But they are not upscale and are not going to help sell the center as an upscale destination.

It looks like Mr Rosenfield will need to add a few more big-name designer stores and some high-end eating and drinking establishments if he is going to succeed in tempting the the Bay Area's wealthy to make repeat visits to the Marin Country Mart.

*Update: the Mart's website now has some detail, including a mall directory

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Big mistake changing the name to Marin Mart.. has absolutely NO character. Larkspur Landing does. find a new Marketing firm, change the name back to Larkspur Landing and plant some trees.
Why do all these new comers move to Marin and think they know whats best for us.. They don't.