Despite all the doom and gloom about brick-and-mortar retail, Lola Dré boutique in Jupiter, Fla., a quiet enclave for stars of the stage and sports just up the coast from Palm Beach, is proof that pockets of shoppers looking for nearby non-online options exist. Before it opened in 1,800 square feet at the waterfront center Harbourside Place, Jupiter was a retail desert regarding women’s upscale contemporary fashions.
“It’s definitely refreshing for the area. Clients tell us, ‘You have all my brands,’” said Lauren Murray, who returned to Florida after working for Ralph Lauren corporate in New York, and partnered with Lorry Rahman, a New Jersey transplant and Unilever alum who was looking for a second career, and André Arceneaux, a previous manager for Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Lacoste in South Florida. The store offers 90 designers, including Ulla Johnson, Zimmermann, Jonathan Simkhai and Alexis, with a selection “that covers all the categories and bases from galas to outdoor luncheons to boating.”
They’re fully aware that retail has changed and requires a new formula that bridges digital and physical spaces. Writing a little from a lot of collections gives customers the variety of the online experience that they’ve grown accustomed to, and a phone call to a sales rep for special orders meets their expectations for instant gratification. Customers can also view incoming deliveries and place pre-orders through the web site. But unlike online purchases, they can touch fabrics, see true colors and find correct sizes rather than waste time with returns.
“We’d all experienced the hassles of online shopping,” said Rahman, who designed the store like a girlfriend’s house with a well-lit, white decor. “There’s a parking lot, and they can sip Champagne and have a snack.”
Locals are using the store as a venue to get together for private shop and sip parties and styling sessions for bridal parties and charity benefits. Entertainment extends to themed and large-scale events. Four-hundred guests came out to the store’s grand opening runway presentation. The store scheduled another major fashion show, plus a pop-up, as the main fashion sponsor for Big Dog Ranch Rescue’s annual Wine, Women and Shoes at Mar-a-Lago on March 14.
“We know who’s in our store and appreciate the small nature of many of our designers’ businesses,” said Murray, who sees it on a daily basis. “We FaceTimed Jonathan Simkhai so he could tour the store, and someone was trying on one of his outfits.”