NEW YORK — J. Crew is Brooklyn bound.
The retailer has leased a 2,400-square-foot, two-level store at 151 Court Street, a thoroughfare that passes through three Brooklyn neighborhoods, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. It will be J. Crew’s first store in the borough. The company expects the store to open in early 2014.
Brooklyn has been booming in recent years as more and more retailers discover the borough, an epicenter for the cool and hip in terms of restaurants, bars and independent shops, and with pedigreed neighborhoods that attract the stroller set. If the area were an independent city, it would be the fourth-largest in the U.S., with a population of 2.8 million. The fact that Brooklyn is considered understored is another strong inducement for retailers.
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“What took us so long in Brooklyn?” said Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer of J. Crew Group Inc. “Actually we’ve been looking for a while, but we wouldn’t compromise the location. When this became available, we decided we really love the spot. It was right and that’s why [we leased it]. We’d rather take the time with the location instead of just finding any location.”
Asked whether J. Crew was waiting for the demographics to improve in Brooklyn, Drexler said, “We were not necessarily waiting for the demographics [to change]. It’s been quite clear over last few years that a lot of our customers live there. In fact, a fair amount of our headquarters team members live there, and we knew it pretty well.” Drexler said the luxury housing that’s being built also pointed to a sophisticated shopper.
While Court Street — so named because it originates at the Brooklyn courts — has pockets of retail, especially near J. Crew’s spot at Pacific Avenue, it’s not populated with stores throughout its length. J. Crew is one block away from Atlantic Avenue, where a Barneys New York Co-Op is located. Apart from American Apparel and a few other national chains, most of the stores in the area are local boutiques, such as Diane T and the Pink Pepper Boutique.
J. Crew may open more stores in Brooklyn, Drexler said. “We’re looking for whatever might be right,” he said. “We don’t have anything in mind in particular.”