GROWTH SPURT: Olive & Bette’s Columbus Avenue location in New York has almost tripled in size. Having purchased the space next door (which was formerly Original Leathers), Stacey Pecor’s boutique at 252 Columbus Avenue has gone from 500 square feet to 1,400 square feet. The expanded boutique will open on Friday and will carry a broader selection of contemporary sportswear and accessories and a more extensive collection of exclusive merchandise. The shop will have pink-striped walls and zebra-patterned dressing rooms with sayings such as ‘Lookin’ good,’ and ‘Hi, gorgeous,’ painted on the mirrors.

TARRANT’S EXCHANGE: Private Brands Inc., a division of Tarrant Apparel Group, is the latest clothing brand seeking public status by way of a reverse merger. The company, known for such exclusive retail brands as American Rag Cie sold to Macy’s Merchandising Group and celebrity licensed brands from Beyoncé Knowles  and Jessica Simpson, has filed a letter of intent with Qorus.com Inc. to sell its stock in exchange for new shares of Qorus, representing a 97 percent stake in the company. As a shell firm functioning without business operations, Vero Beach, Fla.-based Qorus can offer smaller firms seeking a public listing a cheaper route and ability to sell off smaller portions of stock via the reverse merger.

RISING PORT: Facing costly infrastructure, environmental and security projects, the Port of Long Beach plans to raise shipping fees by 5 percent beginning July 1, the start of the peak shipping season. The city’s Board of Harbor Commissioners gave preliminary approval to the tariff hike. A final vote is expected in May. The move coincides with the major rate hikes sought by steamship carriers, which could drive up the cost of shipping goods from Asia to the U.S. by 50 percent. Long Beach’s board acted after the California Association of Port Authorities voted to authorize its 11 member ports, including Los Angeles, to initiate increases. In the next five years, the Port of Long Beach plans to spend more than $1 billion in infrastructure improvements. Its last general tariff increase was approved in December 2003 for a 5 percent hike.

OLSEN OPENS SECOND CHICAGO STORE: Designer Sigrid Olsen is bringing her nature-inspired clothing to another Chicago suburb. Ribbon-cutting for the new store is scheduled to take place on Thursday at the Old Orchard Center in Skokie, Ill., approximately 15 miles north of downtown Chicago. Olsen’s first Chicago area store is located in Oakbrook Center, about 18 miles west of the city. The new store will bring the number of Olsen stores to 27 nationwide.

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