SAN FRANCISCO — Marc Jacobs’ love of surfboards — they’ve popped up for sale in the designer’s Paris and Los Angeles boutiques — has come full circle with the opening today of the City by the Bay’s first Marc by Marc Jacobs store.
The surfboards started as an impromptu request a few years ago by a surfer working at the Marc Jacobs Collection store on Maiden Lane downtown here. That store opened in 2000 as the designer’s first foray outside of New York.
“I originally asked if they could make Marc Jacobs stickers to sponsor my board,” said Will Elphick, who surfs mornings off of Ocean Beach here. Late Tuesday night Elphick was in the new Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Fillmore Street helping to arrange merchandise.
Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs, did one better and had a custom surfboard made. Duffy and Jacobs liked the design so much they began ordering more. A surfboard, painted with a French flag, was the first thing to sell in January when the Marc Jacobs Collection opened in the French capital, which Duffy took as a good omen for this week’s opening here.
“You have to have a reason for people to come into your store,” said Duffy, in a telephone interview before flying here to oversee the final touches on the new, 2,000-square-foot Marc by Marc store. Duffy declined to forecast sales at the store, but retail observers estimated first-year sales could be $4 million.
The Fillmore Street store is the fifth Marc by Marc Jacobs unit, and the third one to stand alone without sharing a building with the designer’s Collection. Other Marc by Marc stores are on Bleecker Street in New York and Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Duffy said there are “plenty of plans” for Marc by Marc stores, including one in New York next year and likely one in Savannah, Ga. “I’m also looking at other locations in California and Hawaii in 2007,” Duffy said. “I keep looking for locations in Chicago.”
The store here is in an old furniture showroom with high ceilings of rough timber and sits like a dark cube on the corner of Sacramento Street, painted in Jacobs’ signature navy blue. At night, the large display windows come alive under theatrical lights.
Duffy said he had wanted to locate the company’s Collection store on Fillmore Street, instead of Maiden Lane, six years ago. “I originally wanted this exact spot,” said Duffy. He said he was attracted by Fillmore’s mix of tenants, and the lack of designer stores, preferring not to be grouped with the bunch.
Such relative seclusion might be hard to maintain.
“There is a lot of interest on the street,” said Pam Mendelsohn, a real estate broker for Johnson-Hoke, which leased the Marc by Marc Jacobs space. “There are a lot of potential tenants looking — fashion, home furnishings — who need 2,000 to 4,000 square feet. I have only one Fillmore vacancy. It’s tied up in a trust.”
Mendelsohn attributed the slow turnover in existing retail space in part to property staying in the same hands for decades. Retail rents, depending on location, average $5 to $6 a square foot, she said.
Fillmore Street is dominated by independently run boutiques, restaurants and services as well as a smattering of brand-name home furnishings stores such as Design Within Reach, based here, and a charity thrift shop. The street is the commercial strip for posh Pacific Heights, one of the city’s most scenic neighborhoods.
Stores that have opened on Fillmore in the last few years have included luxury furniture purveyor Jonathan Adler, the high-end tabletop concern Simon Pearce, women’s wear retailer Eileen Fisher and beauty brand Shu Uemura.