By  on May 23, 1994

NEW YORK -- Although Takashimaya New York has been in business for little more than a year, it's already been a time of change.

When the specialty retailer, at Fifth Avenue between East 54th and 55th Streets, opened in April 1993, it offered an assortment of fashion accessories, home furnishings and original artwork. Since then, it has introduced new merchandise categories, new attractions such as a restaurant, and -- perhaps most significantly, considering its Japanese roots -- started downplaying its focus on big-name luxury goods and zeroing in on more eclectic offerings.

"I think a lot of stores open their doors and then wait out the first year to see what happens before making any changes," said Corliss Tyler, senior vice president and general merchandise manager. "But in this case, we started reassessing what we were doing almost from the start, and our instincts ended up being correct."

As for overall sales, the store wrapped up the first year on a successful note, slightly exceeding its projected volume of $15 million.

"We were on plan until last September, and then activity kind of froze," Tyler noted. "But traffic really opened up again in November and we had an incredible December."

Second-year volume is projected at between $15 million and $18 million, Tyler said.

From the start, a major thrust of Takashimaya New York's strategy has been blending Japanese culture and philosophy into a Western retail market. This concept shows up in everything from merchandising techniques that emphasize spare and simple esthetics to The Tea Box, an Asian-style tea parlor and restaurant that opened in the basement last fall.

The fifth floor, which originally held a major assortment of prestige accessories, now carries bed, bath and lingerie. The accessories are all on the sixth floor now, a level that began strictly for corporate clients and that carried much of the same sort of merchandise originally sold one level below.

The assortment includes Ferragamo and Ghurka in leather goods and Georg Jensen and Angela Cummings in fine jewelry.

Tyler said that status accessories had been "a core business" in Takashimaya's previous store, a much smaller establishment further south on Fifth Avenue that closed just before the new one opened.

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