Steven Dann, a mainstay for designer apparel, shoes and accessories with a sexy edge in Great Neck, N.Y., is more than doubling in size to 2,700 square feet from 1,100 square feet.
Dann, who founded the business 12 years ago, said the store caters to “a girl who wants to look chic throughout the day.” Stevendann.com unapologetically admonishes shoppers to “find your hottest look” with photos of L’Agence’s Anna off-the-shoulder dress and Giuseppe Zanotti’s Betty silver and gold platform sandal.
When Steven Dann opened, it sold primarily shoes and handbags. “In the past six years we’ve transformed the store to more of a lifestyle offering,” Dann said. “We added both midcontemporary and high-contemporary ready-to-wear.”
The additional square footage will be dedicated to a large fur salon and an expanded Eden Square fragrance collection, among other things, Dann said.
The average sale at the store is $1,500. “You can buy jeans for $425 or spend $14,000 or $30,000,” Dann said.
A smaller sister store with 950 square feet of space bowed three years ago in East Hills, N.Y. “It’s our tiny little pit stop,” Dann said, explaining that the store is in the same shopping center as Kitchen Kabaret, a requisite stop for many city dwellers on the way to the Hamptons. “A lot of celebrities go to our store there,” Dann said, citing Brooke Shields, Bethenny Frankel and Billy Joel as recent customers.
“We get young stay-at-home moms who are going from the soccer field to lunch and then are meeting their husband for dinner. We also get a lot of professionals,” Dann said. “A lot of customers come to us from New York City.”
Part of the appeal of Steven Dann is the store’s edit of collections with an eye toward the unusual and embellished, such as Valentino’s tie-dye clutch or the house’s lace ankle boots. “Most of our collections are cherry-picked,” Dann said. “The market is so huge right now, and unfortunately, because of the Internet, you don’t have to leave your bed to shop. We’ve tried to curate our offerings so they know what they’re getting from us won’t be on everyone else.”
To that end, Dann asks designers for exclusives each season, even if it’s standard items in unique colors. He said the store offers at least four exclusive products from each designer.
Examples for fall include Giuseppe Zanotti boots in navy and gray suede for $1,875, which are on their second reorder since shipping in June. L’Agence’s plaid shirt with a sheer back, $375, is on its third reorder since shipping in July. Other products sold only at Steven Dann include a Valentino crossbody bag in teal blue, $2475; and L’Agence’s chocolate brown and navy leather pants, $895.
“It’s definitely a collaboration,” Dann said of the exclusives. “We have a vision of what we want for the season,” Dann said. “When we go to market, we look at collections and ask if they can do something in a certain color for us. Most of the time designers are very receptive.”
Steven Dann is about a 10- to 15-minute drive from Americana Manhasset, the open air collection of shops such as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hermès and Hirshleifers. Dann compared Great Neck to Robertson Boulevard in L.A. and the Americana Manhasset to Beverly Hills. “It’s a little more hip,” he said of Great Neck.
Department stores breaking sales earlier and earlier have challenged his business, Dann said. “They have killed the business in general with friends and family sales, and when they’re not having a sale, it’s triple points or get $50 for every $500 you spend,” he said. “They’ve devalued the collections and the whole shopping experience.”
On the one hand, Dann lamented the see-now-buy-now mentality that’s sweeping the industry. “Everything’s being shipped way too early and that’s what’s killing the business,” he said. “When I started, you got boots in September and October. Holiday was a real holiday collection with velvet and embellishment. Now, our holiday buy is sandals and cover ups.”
Nonetheless, Dann has taken an if you can’t beat them, join them approach. “See-now-buy-now, is the main focus of our business,” he said. “That’s where it’s gone. Everyone has the need to be first.”
Dann said L’Agence and Zimmermann are among the brands that are doing a good job of introducing new products on a monthly basis. “Everyone wants instant gratification,” he explained.