Retailers often overuse the term “flagship” by assigning the designation to many of their stores undeservedly. Not so with J.McLaughlin, the classic all-American sportswear retailer known for its signature prints.
“We have one flagship — our store on Madison Avenue between 92nd and 93rd Streets. It feels like home. It’s one of our original stores,” said Mary Ellen Coyne, chief executive officer of the 43-year-old, 155-unit, Brooklyn-based company.
The two-level, 1,600-square-foot store is situated in a town house. It reopened last Friday after six months of renovation, creating a fresher, updated and more spacious ambience. “We’ve given the store a whole new look,” Coyne said. “It really needed an overhaul, top to bottom. We redid everything.”
An awkward set of interior steps in the front of the store was eliminated, leveling off the first floor. “The store feels very open now. It’s very airy and you can see from the front to the back,” Coyne said.
There’s also a new storefront. The curved window was removed and replaced by a more elegant steel, glass and limestone facade.
In addition, the second floor was expanded to include men’s and women’s merchandise. Before, it just had men’s.
Throughout, “There’s a very clean, neutral palette — much cleaner than we normally have in our stores,” Coyne said. “We have been gravitating to more neutral palettes instead of such intense colors. Being in a brownstone here warrants this level of sophistication.”
The Madison Avenue flagship, located at 1311 Madison Avenue, first opened in 1982, five years after the company was launched. The site has been the company’s biggest renovation project of 2019.
In the first quarter of 2020, the J.McLaughlin store in Ruxton, Md., a suburb of Baltimore, will expand into an adjacent space, growing to 1,800 square feet from 1,000. In the spring, the store in Princeton, N.J., will be renovated.
“We choose to do two to three significant renovations per year,” Coyne said. “We are constantly refreshing.”