Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK--Tristan, a Canadian specialty retailer with European-flavored fashions, has opened its second U.S. store, a 5,500-square-foot unit on Sixth Avenue at 49th Street.
Tristan opened its first U.S. store in April 1993 in Roosevelt Field Shopping Center, Garden City, N.Y., and plans to have seven stores operating in the U.S. in three years.
"Once that is done, we'll analyze whether we're doing good, or in trouble," said Gilles Fortin, president and owner of the Montreal-based chain.
This fall, three more U.S. units are planned, one in Stamford, Conn., in September, and two in the Boston area, in Burlington and Braintree, Mass., in October.
Fortin said he could not project the volume for the new store, at 1230 Avenue of the Americas, but he said that the 5,000-square-foot Roosevelt Field unit did more than $2 million in sales in its first year. "It's on plan. So far, so good."
"Sixth Avenue is not typical of the type of merchandise I am selling," Fortin said. "We would fit better on Madison Avenue or 57th Street," he said, "but it's dangerous to pay those rents." He said rents on those streets are $150-$200 a square foot--double what he's paying on Sixth.
"It's a funny place." he commented. "There's not really business on Saturdays, we're closed on Sundays, but traffic is very heavy from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, particularly at lunchtime."
In Canada, Tristan owns 83 stores, which last year did a total volume of about $80 million, according to Fortin. The company does its own designing and its merchandise is manufactured in Canada and the Far East. The stores feature a range of country, casual and dressier looks geared toward 20-to-35-year-old men and women.
Items include lines wool pants at $120 to $150, heavy knit sweaters at $120, lighter sweaters at $60 to $100, blazers at $160, long cocktail dresses at $200, men's suits, $320.
The firm was founded by Marcel McDermott in Montreal. Fortin bought it from him 21 years ago when it was one store selling unisex looks and losing money.
"At that time, I was a musician," said Fortin, who played keyboards in a rock band. "All the players were shopping there."

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