Louis Move to Fan Pier: One Year Later

A fan of Fan Pier: Retailer Louis says it’s doing well in once-remote section of city

Boston Business Journal by Lisa van der Pool, lvanderpool@bizjournals.com

Article Courtesy of:  Boston Business Journal

Boston Waterfront - Fan Pier - Boston's Innovation District

The View from Louis on Fan Pier in Boston, where the retailer moved a little more than a year ago.

A little over one year ago, high-end clothing retailer Louis left its well-established spot as the chic Grand Dame of Newbury Street, for a new building on Fan Pier. People openly wondered whether Louis’ customer base would make the transition across the city, to shop in a neighborhood known for its parking lots, not its fashionable ambiance.

All the same, Louis’s owner, Debi Greenberg, who would not disclose revenue, said sales are moving in a positive direction, “Louis has captivated a new audience on the waterfront, while also retaining their loyal customers,” she said.

“We are incredibly happy with our move to the waterfront.

Fan Pier: Meet the Peeps 2: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Yes it was a bold move, and while we do not have the same foot traffic we once had on Newbury Street, the calming  effect of the waterfront and the energy of the area has brought  new customers that come to experience Louis, rather than just pop in on their way down the street, as was the case on Newbury Street,” said Greenberg in an email. ” Newbury Street has changed so much over the years, it was no longer the right location for Louis.

While Newbury Street has lost some of its luster as a shopping mecca during the prolonged downturn, Fan Pier, while certainly not a retail destination, has seen activity ratchet up over the last year.  for on thing, a slew of new buzzworthy restaurants has opened during the past 12 months, including Strega Waterfront (where Red Sox players Jason Varitek and Jonathan Papelbon partied hours after Terry Francona left the team last Friday night) and Legal Harborside, among others.”

“We had the gut feeling about the place,” said Maria Fei, vice president of operations at Louis, who said the new restaurants have helped bolster business. 

Retail analyst Michael Tesler, founding partner of Retail Concepts in Norwell, says he thinks the Fan Pier move was a good one.

“Right now she’s looking a lot smarter,” said Tesler.  “I don’t think anyone anticipated just how busy and how exciting and what a change in the dynamic of the city that it would be (on the waterfront).  I think what people are going to call her five years form now, is a visionary.”

Boston Waterfront - Fan Pier - Boston's Innovation District

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Construction Project underway adjacent to Louis

Still, one down side of Louis’ location, (which is a “temporary building” although it will there for 10 years), is that the area is under development.  Louis is located right next to the massive $1.1 billion Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX) development, which broke found in June and will have more than one million square feet of space.

Indeed, Greenberg says her biggest challenge moving forward is attracting shopper to an area that from certain angles, simply looks like a large, dirty construction site. Still, she likely got her space at discount price.  Although industry insiders speculated that Greenberg is now able to pay a fraction of the rent she paid for her old Newbury Street store, she would not discuss her rental agreement.

On a recent weekday morning soon after the store’s 11 a.m. opening, there were about a half-dozen shoppers browsing through the racks of designer clothes.   Floor-ceiling windows fives shopper a nice view of the harbor.

Debi Greenberg Interview on NECN

“While in the long run it is improving the area and ultimately making it a more attractive destination, the immediate effect of loud noises, construction, discourages people from exploring the area even though there is still so much to see,” said Greenberg.

Besides the construction, Greenberg has to contend with the legions of shoppers who prefer to sit at their laptops to make purchases.  This year alone, eCommerce sales will grow 13.7 percent to $188.1 billion, per New York based eMarketer.

Greenberg says it’s a challenge to get people to “step away from the mouse.”  To do so, she focuses on making shopping at Louis and experience that “illuminates” the senses.  To that end, Greenber works to create a calming atmosphere at their store. She holds a variety  of events featuring young designers.

Mario Russo, owner of Salon Mario Russo on Newbury Street, always had a location in the old Louis and opened up a new salon in the Fan Pier store last year.  Russo, who is also on the boaord of the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art), says salon sales are strong.

“I feel strongly (Fan Pier) is going to be the future of Boston,” said Russo.

About Louis

www.louisboston.com

LOOOEEEZ
Let’s start at the beginning. If you’ve never heard of us or been to our store, LouisBoston is pronounced Loooeeez. As in, “whose coat is that? It’s Louie’s.” There’s no “of”, it’s just LouisBoston. And depending upon whether you’re actually from around here or not, it’s either Boston or Baahston. Something else you should know:  if it is, in fact, a Louis coat, it’s something very special. LouisBoston is internationally recognized as one of the finest, most unique and most influential clothing stores in the world. And if you haven’t been to the store lately, you’ve missed a lot. LouisBoston is now also the best place to come when you want to decorate your home, re-make your bed, listen to music, look at art, and improve your vision.

A BIT OF HISTORY
LouisBoston was founded by Louis Pearlstein in the late 1800s. Louis was originally a pawnbroker who accepted the suit off a man’s back as collateral for a loan. Louis’s sons, Saul and Nathan, often worked with their father after school hours. From this experience they developed a love for fine clothing and around 1925 they incorporated the company named Louis for the purpose of selling the finest clothing in the world.

Today, more than three quarters of a century later, it can honestly be said that the original dream has been realized. And the fact that one family has both owned and operated the business during all those years has been the key to its consistent and uncompromising focus.

LouisBoston was housed in the historic New England Museum of Natural History building in Boston’s Back Bay. It was built in 1863 by the noted architect and life-long Bostonian William G. Preston. Bonwit Teller was a tenant from 1947 to 1989, and after a dramatic renovation, LouisBoston made the building its home for 20 years.

January 31st 2010 see’s a fresh start to Louis, as we have vacated the stout but weathered brick fortress on Berkeley street. Sadly this brings to a close for us our time in one of the few classic majestic stand-alone buildings in Boston.

We are starting anew on Boston’s waterfront at Fan Pier. Water views, a new restaurant, a deck, and amazing items from around the world, exclusively at Louis.

 

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