“I want to welcome all of you to the second Saks Fifth Avenue, New York City, but the first of its kind.” On September 9th, with those remarks, Marc Metrick, President of Saks Fifth Avenue, took an oversized pair of scissors and cut the ribbon that was held in front of him by two models; thus signaling the grand opening of the new Saks Downtown department store, located at 225 Liberty Street in the Brookfield Place shopping center in Battery Park City.
|Julianne Moore & Marc Metrick|
For the opening ceremony, Metrick was joined by Jerry Storch, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Co.; Richard Baker, Governor and Executive Chairman of Hudson’s Bay; Rick Clark, CEO of Brookfield Properties and Academy Award winning actress, Julianne Moore. In his introduction, Metrick referred to Moore as “Saks Fifth Avenue’s favorite downtown girl.”
|Julianne Moore in the shoe department|
The VIP entourage made its way into the store, followed by a throng of customers that had gathered outside, anxiously waiting to shop in the new Saks store. Once inside, Moore was escorted upstairs to the elegantly appointed shoe department on the second level. There she posed for photographs and chatted with reporters. The shoe department bears some resemblance to the one in Saks uptown, which is known for having its own zip code: 10022-SHOE.
|Marc Mestrick. President of SFA|
Saks Downtown occupies three levels in the Brookfield Place complex, but the company’s commitment to the rebirth of lower Manhattan extends beyond the 86,000 square foot retail space occupied by the store. “ It’s more a responsibility,” Metrick explains, “I think that we believe we are a big part of New York City, and we’re a big part of the fabric of the city and the culture, and when people were really thinking about, you know what happens; what do you want to do, how do you want to build it back up, we knew we needed to be here. Also, HBC, our parent company, moved all of its New York City based headquarter offices down here to this building. So actually, we’re really committed, we’re not just bringing our store, but we’re bringing our folks and our team and really we believe in this and what’s happening down here.”
The glittering new store features a circular design on the two main selling floors, eschewing the traditional method of displaying merchandise in clearly defined departments. “I think it’s much more open than what you would see in a traditional store,” Metrick explains, “We’ve de-departmentalized it. We’re merchandising by lifestyle, so downstairs you’ll see ready to wear with leather goods, all mixed in. The circulation is built really for more of a discovery and a browse, than it is for transaction. So we believe that now, for a customer to want to come to a store, they need to want to shop; you want to make them want to shop.” Metrick continues, “If they need to buy something they don’t need to come to a store anymore.”
There is certainly no shortage of potential customers for the new Saks location. Fifteen years after September 11th, the largely residential community is bustling with activity. There are thousands more people living in the area than there were prior to 9/11 and there is a steady influx of commuters for business, not to mention the tourists. So who does Metrick see as the target customer for the new store? “ I think there are elements of it that are localized to this specific community,” he says, “…but again every (New York City) neighborhood is its own destination. So I think we are going to have people from Brooklyn, people from New Jersey, people from the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and of course the people who work and live down here. So…this is Saks, and you know we’ll put a twist on it for the local community, but we want to make it special. We’re just all very, very proud. I’m proud of the entire team…I want to thank my entire organization for everything they’ve done, because it’s been truly a labor of love.”
– Rhonda Erb
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