Here's the very latest news about Palo Alto area retail.
PAPERWHIRL TO CLOSE ... After nearly 36 years in business, Paperwhirlis preparing to close its doors in Palo Alto. "It was not a question of rent. My landlord has been more than fair. It was a question of simplifying my life," said Paperwhirl owner Christine Chang. She acknowledged that several factors went into her decision to close her stationery and gift store at 230 University Ave.
"I've had many changes in my life in the past few years," she said. The store originally opened nearly 36 years ago in the Stanford Shopping Center. "In the summer of 2005, we moved to downtown Palo Alto. Although I love the energy of downtown, and I will miss it when we close, we actually lost a good part of our customer base when we moved from Stanford to University Avenue. Customers didn't want to drive downtown because they perceived the parking as being difficult," she said. Still, Paperwhirl continued to thrive in Palo Alto, and in 2013, Chang opened another Paperwhirl in Los Altos. That store, at 151 Main St., will remain open. "Having only one store was an easy decision to come to. It's smaller, and most of my staff live nearby. And downtown Los Altos has a nice, old-fashioned feel to it." Chang said. Paperwhirl in Palo Alto is currently having a clearance sale on merchandise until the store closure on June 30.
BOUTIQUES FLOCK TO PALO ALTO ... A bevy of boutiques is flocking to Palo Alto. In addition to several small shops that have recently opened in the Stanford Shopping Center, including Luisa Spagnoli, AllSaints, and Uno de 50, at least two more boutiques are making their debut in Palo Alto's Town & Country Village this month.
A chic, minimalist women's boutique called 8telier is moving into the vacated space that housed Beyt, a home decor store that closed after 8 months in the shopping center that created one-of-a-kind items out of salvage recovered from the aftermath of civil war in Lebanon. The new 800-square-foot shop, expected to open June 15, is owned by Jean Glover and her business partner and husband, Craig Glover. "Town & Country is the perfect location for us. We saw from our online business that a lot of our clients are from the Bay Area, so Palo Alto seemed to be a natural place for us," said Jean Glover. This is the couple's second store. The first opened in Seattle in 2014. Glover's approach to design is guided by her architectural training 'form follows function.' "8telier's designs are minimal with an edgy feel but always keeping in tune with the female body," Glover said. A grand opening party for the upscale boutique, located next to Tin Pot Creamery, is scheduled for June 18.
Another upscale store is also getting ready to open this month at Town & Country. Billing itself as a "socially conscious luxury home decor company," St. Frankis moving into the space formerly occupied by B Real Women's Apparel, which moved out of the shopping center earlier this year. St. Frank founder and CEO Christina Bryant, along with her partner Steph Peng, are graduates of Stanford Business School. "We're excited to be back in Palo Alto. It's a special place," Bryant said. The Town & Country store is the second location for St. Frank. The first opened in San Francisco in November 2015. "We have a large group of collectors on the Peninsula, and we're excited to offer them a closer touch point to the St. Frank home. We wanted to bring the whole experience to them and help establish our base in the Bay Area," she said. The Palo Alto store will have a more relaxed, countryside feel compared to the San Francisco store, according to Bryant. And a third location is on the horizon. "We're searching for another store in Los Angeles and expect to open before the end of the year," Bryant said. St. Frank partners with entrepreneurial artisan groups as part of its social mission.