The empty former Kitson space on Robertson Boulevard is about to get a new touch from a familiar hand.
Fraser Ross founded the buzzy chain stocked with everything from Von Dutch trucker hats — which will be making a comeback in the new store — to True Religion jeans and novelty gift items, building out a retail concept that managed to nab a celebrity cult following in Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and other stars. He’s looking to make a go at round two for retail with a concept called Kitross that could not only help breathe new life into the building, but also the broader street.
“The world’s changing and evolving,” Ross said. “[Kitross will be] more what Kitson was originally focused on with pop culture and actually deep in what’s current now. It’s a store for everyone to come to.”
Ross appears to be loyal to Robertson, having shopped a few spaces on the street in addition to others before settling on his old stomping grounds in the space previously occupied by the very first Kitson, opened in 2000. Kitson late last year revealed it would be shuttering its 17 stores and online site amid financial woes and ambitious growth plans that didn’t quite come to fruition.
The opening could prove a potential boon for the street based on what the original Kitson on Robertson managed to do with the paparazzi that followed the store’s celebrity clientele and in turn helped get the location heavily photographed. But Robertson in more recent years has been hit with vacancies and flat rental rate growth, challenged first by the downturn in commercial real estate brought on by the recession, followed by increased competition from more popular streets such as Beverly Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.
Returning to the familiar spot seemed meant to be, Ross said. It also helped that rental rates were right and there is nearby parking, he added.
“It’s full circle for him,” said Jay Luchs, executive vice president at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, who brokered the deal.
The store will sell apparel and gifts for men, women and children and is expected to be up and running in full force by July, Ross said.
Ross, who was traveling Thursday, said the deal for the building was inked about two weeks ago and he is in the midst of gathering inventory. For now, a sign out front teases passersby with the phrase: “And the story begins.”
Ross’s ultimate goal with the new store is for customers: “When they come through, I hope it feels like L.A.”