CHICAGO — The city’s toniest Gold Coast retailers may be still covered in plywood, but retailers are getting back to business.
A tour through the neighborhood on Tuesday revealed mixed results when it comes to what’s open and what’s not, as many stores are still recovering due to vandalism on May 30 and 31 that took place on the sidelines of the generally peaceful protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Stores such as Dior, Tod’s, Saint Laurent, La Perla, Tory Burch and Dolce & Gabbana were open, while Giorgio Armani, Escada, Intermix and Versace were closed.
Versace, which suffered major damage, appeared under construction. Chanel, which painted its boarded-up storefront white to reflect the brand’s signature color, and Hermès were open by appointment only. According to a sign on the door, Tom Ford was open for curbside pickup, home delivery and appointments.
Many stores at 900 North Michigan Avenue, including Gucci, were open, and shoppers wearing masks were spotted perusing the makeup counters at Bloomingdale’s.
Designer Azeeza Khan has not reopened her store, also located at 900 North Michigan Avenue, and is offering curbside pickup.
“We continue to clientele remotely,” said Khan, whose designs are sold at Shopbop, Kith, 11 Honoré and, as of this week, Bergdorf Goodman. “It’s been fun to FaceTime some top clients, almost like a mini trunk show, across the U.S. and overseas.”
The atmosphere was upbeat, with people enjoying lunch at Space 519’s outdoor seating area. The store, located at 200 East Chestnut Street reopened June 10, one week after its originally planned reopening date. The store suffered no damage from vandalism and co-owner Lance Lawson attributes their luck to location — two blocks east of Michigan Avenue, where the area is more residential.
“We’re so fortunate, everything was impacted,” said Lawson, who owns Space 519 with Jim Wetzel.
The store was closed for almost 90 days, since March 20. To ensure the space looked fresh for customers, the owners worked with each vendor to swap in new merchandise. In addition, they introduced a new grab-and-go food section, called The Lunchbox.
“We made sure when people walked in, they weren’t seeing the same stuff they saw in March,” Lawson said.
His vendor strategy seemed to be a win-win. The store features designers that don’t have a huge presence in department stores — like New York-based Tibi, the German brand Odeeh, Los Angeles-based Rosetta Getty and French knitwear brand Molli.
“We paid them our open balances, we sent back some of last season’s merchandise and we looked at styles that were more evergreen,” Lawson said.
The store received a lifeline via Small Business Administration funding. “We felt obligated to use that money to help our suppliers,” he said. “The point of this money is it helps everybody.”
As for the merchandise from March, Lawson is hiding it for now, and plans to hold a “tasteful tag sale” this summer. “We can’t be on this markdown schedule, it makes the merchandise feel not that special,” he said.
Meanwhile, workers were busy replacing broken windows at home and fashion accessories boutique Crosell & Co., which carries everything from Versace tableware to handbags by French brand Perrin.
“The glass alone is almost $3,000,” said owner Dianne Crosell. “I’m thinking between $40,000 and $50,000 of merchandise [was taken] at cost. The insurance will pay for it. I always laugh and say, ‘I’ll skimp on some things, but you never know when you need insurance.’ We were just getting ready to open in two days and then this happened.”