The designer boutique isn’t dead — it’s just trimmed down a bit for the Nineties. Take the Grocery Store, 3615 Sacramento St., for example. It has designer names such as Gaultier, Ozbek and Katharine Hamnett without the typical designer prices. And, no, it’s not an off-price outlet.
Owner Susan Foslien, who operates the two, more-proper Bay Area designer stores called Susan, opened the Grocery Store several months ago to offer a designer look at more accessible prices. Of course, the lines offered aren’t the primary lines — they’re the diffusion or secondary lines such as Junior Gaultier or Future Ozbek. And they’re often more fun and a bit more casual than their serious namesakes. Katharine Hamnett jeans sell for as little as $96.99, and a pair of Gaultier jeans start at $94.
T-shirts, baseball caps and even little enamel fish pins from Minnesota are also scattered throughout the boutique. Foslien jokes that the Grocery Story may be the designer store for a recession, but her two Susan boutiques still ring up sales increases. Perhaps it is Foslien’s knowledge of designers gleaned from her Susan stores that gives the Grocery Store its fresh perspective. “I probably wouldn’t be able to create the Grocery Store without that knowledge,” Foslien said.