News


Shop Talk: Paperwhirl leaves Palo Alto; boutiques open at Town & Country

 

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.

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Comments

38 people like this
Posted by PA For and by the non-paying office oarks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:40 am

"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,"

And

"And downtown Los Altos has a nice, old-fashioned feel to it."

Is anybody listening? Another beloved business moving out of Palo Alto. I didn't read the rest of the article, I can't afford to shop those places. I'm too busy paying my property taxes so too many people can work here, not contribute, and demand we pave over Palo Alto so they can live here cheap, too.


17 people like this
Posted by Sad Shopper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Sad to see Paperwhirl go. Earlier this year I took my daughter downtown so she could shop for a gift for her mom. That trip is when I realized how dead downtown retail was. Paperwhirl was one of the only shops where you might find a reasonably priced gift.


5 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2016 at 10:47 pm

"And downtown Los Altos has a nice, old-fashioned feel to it."
Obviously written by someone who hasn't been there lately. It's not the Village anymore. Nice? Sure, but definitely not old-fashioned or the same as it was in years past. A lot has changed.

"I'm too busy paying my property taxes so too many people can work here, not contribute, and demand we pave over Palo Alto so they can live here cheap, too."

Palo Alto got paved over a long,long time ago. No need for anyone to pay additional property taxes. The developers will take care of the building. That is Capitalism, not Communism.


11 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

And Los Altos is likely to lose that "good old fashioned feel" as it too is obsessed with big buildings.

Residents of Los Altos are beginning to sound like those of Palo Alto.

Quality of life just doesn't appeal to those who crave money and power. (after all, they probably live on estates in the foothills anyway.)


11 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Very sorry to see Paper Whirl leave downtown. Have always enjoyed their array of offerings. At least we will still have Letter Perfect who also fills that niche. A variety of retail downtown is slipping away and that is sooooo sad.


17 people like this
Posted by PA For and by the nonpaying office parks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:20 pm

@Kazu,
Um, Kazu, that was a quote from the retail business owner in the article, who is moving from downtown Palo Alto to downtown Los Altos because Los Altos still has a small town village feel. Since she moved her business there, I would assume that she, like me, spends time in downtown Los Altos. You on the other hand seem to trawl these lists in order to make pro-build-baby-build statements at ever possible opportunity.

Yes, Los Altos has been building, too. But there is no comparison. Los Altos planners have maintained higher standards for beauty and land use. Most especially, their billionaires have formed an investment company - notably Passerelle, now Los Altos Community Investments - to ensure that Los Altos did not turn into a dead, ugly, overbuilt business park the way downtown Palo Alto did.

As for the office parks paying their way, in case you did not realize it, there is no business tax in Palo Alto. Since Prop 13, residents have gradually been paying more and more of the overall tax burden, and businesses have been paying less. The developers laugh all the way to the bank while creating huge liabilities for residents: infrastructure, traffic, pollution, noise, loss of retail, loss of community services, overcrowded schools and the expense of building new schools, destruction of the natural environment, compromised safety and compromised safety planning, and the list goes on. Office parks are not paying for those, residents are. The answer to all of this is not further destruction of Palo Alto, the answer is to sit down and think through how to incentivize moving some of the office capacity to help create another desirable urban center where it is wanted, instantly creating more capacity for our nation's growing urbanization trend (which geographers say will continue into the next century, well beyond this boom cycle), and in the easiest way possible, taking many of the burdens of overdevelopment here.

@Elizabeth,
Residents of Los Altos should take a page from what happened in Palo Alto. If you allow too many exceptions to zoning, it's like wanting to be a little bit pregant. Residents have the power to stop things, if you organize. (I frankly wish my neighborhood could secede and become part of Los Altos!)


11 people like this
Posted by Judith
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm

My loyalty to shopping downtown and Menlo Park has switched to Los Altos. Main Street and State Street are so pleasant to stroll along, and so many great little stores there, including Paperwhirl where I often buy gifts. And Parking is so easy and convenient.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:13 am

So what I'm hearing is that old Palo Alto shoppers are going to Los Altos, leaving downtown Palo Alto to younger folks. Works for me, but I find it ironic that people on this threat are fixated on a store that is basically selling the result of a process that kills oxygen-generating organisms.


4 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:12 am

@Me (Old Palo Alto):

Trees are a renewable resource. After you harvest them, you plant some new ones. In a few years you harvest those.

How do you think the food on your table is produced?

From a historical perspective, paper has been one of the key resources for society. Historical documents, literature, music, religious texts, scientific ideas, even the Declaration of Independence (the founding document that created this nation) were written on paper.

If man had not invented paper making, civilization would look very different and most likely you never would have been given the opportunity to post your thoughts on a discussion board of a local newspaper. I find your comment to be very ironic and a good example of our "social responsibility" has undermined the ability to rationally understand modern society.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:48 am

"If man had not invented paper making, civilization would look very different and most likely you never would have been given the opportunity to post your thoughts on a discussion board of a local newspaper. "

Yeah, and if man had not invented the stone wheel, where would we be?

That doesn't mean I want stone wheels on my car.

What's doubly ironic is that you're making your comment on a website on the Internet that is fast supplanting the paper newspaper.


2 people like this
Posted by Shopper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Me, what do you think happens to your smart phone and computer after you've thrown them out for an upgrade? They end up in china where poor workers try and salvage the precious metals and discard the rest. At least paper is recycled - the plastic in your computer, phone, etc. are not, and companies like apple could care less. Also, Paperwhirl sells a lot of items other than cards and stationary. I will miss Paperwhirl as it is one of the only stores to browse in in downtown Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:18 am

"At least paper is recycled - the plastic in your computer, phone, etc. are not, and companies like apple could care less"

Ahem, if you're going to make this point, you should use a better example.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:48 am

@Me:

Yeah, your points aren't really applicable. Paperwhirl was not selling paper for printing newspapers. They sold things like stationery, notecards, etc.

I still send handwritten thank you notes, get well cards, etc. via the mail.

Anyhow, continue with your illogical ranting. Perhaps your computer is giving off too much radiation and it's frying your cranium.


2 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:50 am

@Me:

Oh, and another funny thing is the way you totally ignored my quip about how your food gets on your table.

What are you eating? Recycled plastic? Stone wheels recovered from archaeological excavations?

Please do tell us what you ate yesterday.


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

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