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As shoppers head online, what value does a flagship store bring?
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Under Armour said it might abandon plans to open a flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, perhaps the world’s most famous hub for retail outlets with stores like Tiffany & Co., Dolce and Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton. Others have been quietly downsizing or closing their Fifth Avenue flagships.
But what is the point of a flagship store these days, anyway?
“It’s not just about shoes and handbags,” said Bronwyn Cosgrave, host of the fashion podcast “A Different Tweed.” “You are conjuring a lifestyle.” She said the stores are an advertisement, “a big poster for your brand.”
Some brands are about prestige. Others, like the flagship Lego store, with it’s green dragon coming down from the ceiling, are about having fun.
One thing the stores have in common is how expensive they are to operate: the average rent on Fifth Avenue is almost $3,000 per square foot a month. Add in the costs of designing and building the store, and you have to be really sure about being on this famous stretch of Manhattan.
“[It’s] much more difficult then to rent or to sell or to move it to the next person, because they might come in and say, ‘Oh, jeez! It’s going to cost me that much more now to change it to my vision,'” said Michael Londrigan of LIM, a business and fashion college in Midtown Manhattan.
It sounds like Under Armour wasn’t sure. It said Monday it’s planning to focus on its smaller, more profitable locations.
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