Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dr. Martens to open store on Walnut

by Natalie Kostelni, Staff Writer

"The Center City store will look like this one in SoHo.
Dr. Martens, the British-made boot that factory workers wore but later defined punk rockers, skinheads and other rebels, is opening a store on Walnut Street in Center City.

It will serve as the shoemaker’s fifth retail outlet in the United States and second on the East Coast.

The company signed a long-term lease on 3,800 square feet at 1710 Walnut St. on Rittenhouse Row after exploring several spaces.

“They didn’t want a cookie-cutter vanilla box or a mall look. They couldn’t find that in a lot of locations and there isn’t much available in Rittenhouse.”

The space at 1710 Walnut had been occupied by The Gap before it moved to 15th and Chestnut streets and was most recently vacated by Design Within Reach, a contemporary furniture store that closed.

Dr. Martens, which had traditionally been sold in other outlets, has maintained a flagship store in Portland, Ore., where its North American headquarters is located. It uses that shop to test new products. The company, however, began to sign leases to open additional retail outlets three years ago.

“There had been a resurgence in the brand in fashion,” said Mike Vincent, chief operating officer of Dr. Martens. “The trend, in general, has come back.”

Particularly with its boots. Taking a cue from the uptick, the company decided to seize on it.

“In a down economy, we ran into buildings that retailers were running out of,” he said.

It plans to open stores in key markets and cities in the United States and envisions having roughly no more than 10 locations. The SoHo section of Manhattan and Philadelphia will be the only two sites along the East Coast. The Philadelphia store will be the first to offer a new line of Dr. Martens’ apparel and accessories.

“I love it and the energy is there,” Vincent said about the Rittenhouse Row location. “We look at the demographics, energy and vibe of the city and we’re really excited by it.”

In addition, the company also tracks Internet sales and saw a robust business in the city, and it didn’t hurt that Vincent had gotten familiar with Philadelphia while his daughter attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We haven’t heard a peep out of them in years,” he said about Dr. Martens but is intrigued by its seeking to boost its retail presence.

“Converse, which has been around forever, is talking stores and is a neat brand pushing into the marketplace. One that didn’t work well was Esprit,” Steinberg said. “It remains to be seen how Dr. Martens will do.”

Dr. Martens will invest up to $500,000 to renovate the space, which aims to have a similar look to its SoHo store. Greenlight Architecture of New York is the designer. The store is scheduled to open in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.