Shop Talk: Trio of boutiques open at Stanford and more

This week's retail news from the Palo Alto area

The transformation of Stanford Shopping Center continues this month with the opening of several new retail stores: The North Face, Luisa Spagnoli, AllSaints and Uno de 50.

NORTH FACE BOLDLY OPENS AT STANFORD ... A walk through the front door of The North Face presents a surprising scene. Store employees call it a "visual explosion." Indeed, Stanford Shopping Center's new outdoor apparel and equipment store has created an unusual effect. "It's hard to know if you're standing inside or outside," said one shopper, who was referring to the massive, 18-foot-tall tree seemingly growing out of the middle of the store. Add to that a couple of large sky windows simulating the outside weather on a digital screen, and long door handles made from Juniper trees.

The store, which occupies a 6,500-square-foot-space, is in the newly renovated part of the mall, and takes up a portion of the space that housed the old Bloomingdale's. The North Face officially opened on April 29, just one day after Palo Alto's other North Face closed its doors at 217 Alma St., following a 24-year run at that location. So the adage, "When one door closes, another one opens," is absolutely true in this case.

The new North Face is considered a pilot store for the brand, according to store manager Tina Yap. "It's the only one of its kind of the approximately 100 stores we have in the U.S., and the merchandise is a more elevated assortment of clothing than our Alma Street store had," Yap said. Another nugget: "We are also the first North Face store ever to feature mannequins in marble, stone and bronze," Yap said, referring to the skin color of the more than 60 life-size mannequins scattered throughout the store. The marble mannequin is light gray in color, the stone is a darker gray and the bronze, well, is bronze. Many of the colorful mannequins, which are placed in nearly every possible space, are portrayed in active or athletic poses, further supporting the outdoorsy feel of the store.

Yap pointed out the two, large interior sky windows, placed up near the ceiling of the store, that feature artistic, atmospheric content mimicking the outside conditions. "The digital scene from the windows relates to our current weather," she said. "So if its raining outside, we showcase rain. If it's sunny, we showcase the sunshine. And then there are clouds and stars at night."

And what about that huge tree in the middle of the space? "It's a Redwood that measures about two feet in diameter, and it was salvaged from Southern Oregon. We consider it the centerpiece of the store," said Eli Petricka, the company's creative director.

He said the store itself, which highlights localized, community elements, is based on the topography of Yosemite. "We wanted to represent the local community," Petricka said. The front entrance, for instance, has "Palo Alto" engraved in concrete, complete with its GPS coordinates.

A TRIO OF BOUTIQUES OPEN AT STANFORD ... Two clothing stores and a jewelry store also opened this month at Stanford Shopping Center. The Italian-based Luisa Spagnoli has made Stanford its first U.S. location. The store's upscale merchandise includes clothing, handbags and accessories. And AllSaints -- yes it's one word -- a retailer headquartered in London, celebrates innovation, design and individuality, according to a company spokesperson. The 3,000-square-foot Stanford location has 162 authentic Singer sewing machines in the middle of the store. The British import, which also has a second store in northern California on San Francisco's Geary Street, sells men's and women's clothing and accessories, and is said to be known for its iconic leather biker jackets. The last of the trio of new openings is a unique, hand-crafted jewelry store. Uno de 50 is a stunning addition to the shopping center. Each collection of jewelry has a limited edition of 50 pieces. Hard to miss: the oversized, iconic padlock on the front door, artistically created to symbolize the protection of the exclusivity of the brand's jewelry designs.

Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? Daryl Savage will check them out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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3 people like this
Posted by Flash
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2016 at 10:35 am

“created an usual effect”: I think you mean “unusual.” It is quite a change from the old store; I got the impression the company was more interested in impressing me with its design novelty than enabling me to find what I wanted and buy it.

2 people like this
Posted by Lost retail?
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2016 at 1:52 pm

What was all that furor about lost retail last year? Palo Alto retail seems pretty healthy to me. Definitely better than in Menlo Park or Mountain View!

12 people like this
Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 16, 2016 at 10:40 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

I doubt if I will EVER set foot in Luisa Spagnoli, AllSaints or Uno de 50. Stanford may gain one type of shopper but they have lost me.

26 people like this
Posted by RW
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2016 at 10:49 am

<sigh> Remember when there was a Woolworth at Stanford? Goodbye moderately priced shopping options at Stanford.

2 people like this
Posted by Thoughts
a resident of Duveneck School
on May 16, 2016 at 11:29 am

Re other postings, yes, I remember Woolworth's. However, I wouldn't call that "moderately priced shopping" - it was much less than that. I remember Emporium too. Neither of them are relevant to our shoppers in the area. I'm predicting Macy's is the next to leave, as it has turned into just a step above Kohl's, although it still has its place for me. Too bad they can't bring Sak's Fifth Avenue back, but Nordstrom and Neiman already have that area covered.

I don't step into those boutique shops either and shop at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, Sephora, and other mainstream small stores on occasion.

I wish they would have a Zumiez, H&M or other teen store besides Brandy Melville. PacSun's customer service was atrocious, good riddance.

Has anyone ever shopped during the daytime, weekdays? The shoppers are clearly not Palo Altans unless they are Old Palo Alto or Professorville residents. Shoppers are decked-out in super designer clothing.

4 people like this
Posted by KC
a resident of Woodside
on May 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm

I agree, Luisa Spagnoli, AllSaints, Uno de 50 and are too pricey for the average shopper. What about Bloomingdales? I used to frequent that before they 'changed' their whole outlook. I don't step into Bloomies anymore, sad.
They should also think about bringing Zara in. It's not too pricey and pretty fashionable.

2 people like this
Posted by Judy
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Wow!! clothes shopping has changed. I remember when I first came to PA in the 1960s, you'd stand in line just to get into Macy's when they had their bi-annual sale. Then to buy anything you'd stand in another line behind 7 or 8 others. Now I go into Macy's, every rack is a "sales" rack and there are more sales people than customers. How sad!!!

Let's face it I used to have 10 or more suits and had to have "front desk" appearance at all times. Now my children go to work in jeans and a T-shirt. Styles have definitely changed and the department stores are suffering.

2 people like this
Posted by Thoughts
a resident of Duveneck School
on May 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm

@Judy: Yes, in the 70s, those Macy's White Flower sales increased to once per month. Nowadays, I don't even buy anything there unless I can get a discount or I feel ripped-off because they always have discounts. And I agree with you, "business casual" has gotten out of control. I find that a skirt or dress is actually more comfortable than pants.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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