NEW YORK--Coolwear, based in Long Island City, N.Y., is the latest streetwear line to move into the retail ring. On Friday, the firm will open its first store, a 1,400-square-foot boutique on 123-3 Main Street in Westhampton, N.Y. Two other streetwear firms--Dollhouse and Living Doll--also have opened small boutiques, as reported. Stuart Gelb, a founder and principal of Coolwear, said juniors never see his total look in stores. "Their merchandising is cherry-picking instead of a total concept," Gelb said. "At certain stores, like Wet Seal, they let us use our labels and certain customers come in and ask for it. I don't think it's shown as a total package, but I think the name rings well in the customer's mind," Gelb continued. Oded Nachmani, the other founder and principal at Coolwear, said they chose Westhampton because of the summer crowds and because rents are low compared with Manhattan's. "We figured that the young kids are out there in the summer and we wanted to test the waters," he said. "The same store in New York would be double or triple the price." Nachmani said they are paying $30,000 rent for the season, which will run through part of September. The company is projecting sales of $800,000 for that period. Although the lease is for five years, Nachmani said the store will be open only during warm-weather months. The store will offer Coolwear dresses, related tops and bottoms, some with lace trims; sporty items such as tank tops and Lycra spandex twill bottoms; sleeveless and short-sleeved sweaters, and T-shirts. Nachmani calls this store a "prelude to a retail operation" for the company, which had a wholesale volume of around $35 million last year, and said he ultimately wants to have a store in every major city. "The next step would be a store in downtown Manhattan," he said, adding that he is considering SoHo or the East Village. "What we make is always on the cutting edge, and the kids that buy it are downtown," he said. "We won't be able to sell our goods on the Upper East Side."
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