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ShopTalk: Warby Parker opens; shopping surge at Stanford

The holidays get busy for local mall, and new sunglasses retailer comes to Palo Alto

In this week's retail news: Predictions for the holiday surge at Stanford Shopping Center, and the anticipated opening of eyeglasses and sunglasses retailer Warby Parker.

SHOPPING SURGE AT STANFORD ... It is reasonable to assume that 5,446 parking spaces at the Stanford Shopping Center would be more than adequate for customers on any given day, even on the busiest of days. But that assumption is flawed. At least it is for the holiday surge.

Predictions are that every single space will be filled today and tomorrow, Dec. 23 and 24. A Stanford mall official anticipates those two days will be two of the busiest shopping days of the year.

To welcome the expected swarm of last-minute shoppers, the center will have strolling musicians as well as complimentary morning coffee on Friday, Dec. 23.

Julie Kelly, the shopping center's marketing and business development director, said, "We've already asked all the employees to park off site. That will free up more spaces for customers," she said.

So why now? Turns out a few factors are in play, explained Kelly.

"First of all, it's been years since Christmas Eve has fallen on a Saturday, so that's going to be a huge boost for sales." That's one factor. The completion of the three-year renovation and redevelopment of the shopping center has helped fuel a surge in crowds. That's a second factor, according to Kelly.

And the third factor? A total of 23 new spaces for stores and restaurants have opened as a result of the mall expansion. And although Kelly emphasized that all the stores are doing well, there is one in particular that has been a runaway success.

"It's Anthropologie. They opened their flagship store here last month. At 32,749 square feet, it has really driven traffic. There's been a steady stream of customers," she said.

The two-story Anthropologie, a women's clothing and accessory retailer which also has a cafe on site, has completely occupied one of four new buildings in Stanford Shopping Center's extensive redevelopment.

The multiyear project added a whopping 110,000 square feet of retail in the mall. And the cost of all that square footage and all those new buildings? Shopping center officials would not disclose the price, but a source familiar with the project conservatively estimated construction costs came in at a minimum of $18 million.

SPECS AND SHADES SHOP OPENS ... The third and final store moving into the former University Arts Center in the 89-year-old Birge Clark building at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Ramona Street is scheduled to open next week. Warby Parker, a New York-headquartered retailer, which sells eyeglasses and sunglasses, will have its grand opening on Dec. 26 at 555 Ramona St.

The other two occupants in the historic, Spanish Colonial Revival building are Sweetgreen, the fast-casual salad eatery which grabbed the corner spot at Ramona Street and Hamilton Avenue, and Shinola, a luxury watch and leather goods retailer, which occupies the space on the Hamilton Avenue side.

Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa said, "As a tech-enabled brand, we've always had strong ties to Silicon Valley, where many of our friends and investors live and work. The Bay Area is a second home to us (I went to Berkeley and worked in San Francisco), so we're glad to have yet another excuse to spend time there."

To celebrate its presence in Palo Alto, Warby Parker is offering what it calls, "A pair of Palo Alto-exclusive sunglasses." The black framed, blue lens glasses sell for $95. Approximately 150 different styles of frames are on display in library-style walnut shelves in the Palo Alto store. And for every pair of glasses or sunglasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need through the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Partnering with its primary nonprofit organization, VisionSpring, Warby Parker's website says the company has distributed more than 2 million pairs of glasses to people in need.

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

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Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Dr Demento
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Dr Demento is a registered user.

Yup, better selection and prices for sunglasses online!

Strange to see SO MANY people, who are known not to celebrate Christmas, crowding the Stanford Shopping Center today


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