In Westport, Anthropologie & Co. creates ‘fullest expression’ of brand
By Alexander SouleUpdated
Though it is the replacement for a beloved community pool, it is only a coincidence that Anthropologie & Co. chose its new Westport store as the first nationally to sell women’s swimwear, which had been sold only online.
As it throws open its doors at 10 a.m. Friday, Anthropologie & Co. promises there is much more inside to draw local shoppers, including those who are as comfortable buying online as they are downtown.
On Friday, parent company Urban Outfitters Inc. opens its new Anthropologie & Co. store concept in Westport at 59 Post Road E., the first ribbon-cutting in the Bedford Square development downtown that includes retail, restaurant and apartments. The new store replaces an Anthropologie that had been in Westport for more than two decades — only its third location nationally — with the company having also made the town a proving ground for its Terrain outdoors and garden center, located on Post Road East.
It is just the sixth Anthropologie & Co. store nationally, with the new concept embracing clothing, furniture, home decor, cosmetics and even a wedding gown department. As much as possible in 35,000 square feet, Anthropologie & Co. is intended as a chic department store in miniature — or as the the Philadelphia-based company puts it in a Westport promotion front and center this week on its main website, “the Anthropologie of your dreams.”
“When we first conceived of the Anthropologie Group concept, this was one of the prototypical types of locations where there’s incredible community, a deep sense of architectural ‘place’ and reach in the community, and our ability to come in and participate,” said David McCreight, CEO of Anthropologie Group, during a Thursday tour of the store. “People ask me, ‘What is Anthropologie & Co?’ For us, it is really the fullest expression of the brand.”
Anthropologie & Co. is staffing the store with 125 people initially, including part-timers, an anticipates adding at least 75 more during the holidays. Next door in Bedford Square, Urban Outfitters Inc. is opening a restaurant called Amis Trattoria. Combined with Terrain, an existing downtown Urban Outfitters store and the new Free People apparel store that opened on Post Road East last week, Westport is the only municipality in the country to feature all five brands.
Architects have preserved the Tudor-style exterior to the Bedford Square building, originally the mansion of Standard Oil director Edward T. Bedford, before serving as the longtime home of the Westport Weston Family YMCA.
Broken into multiple mezzanine levels and suffused with light from the top floor all the way through a floor below street grade, the new Anthropologie & Co. leaves intact and exposed much of the building’s original brick, while adding plenty of eye-catching hooks like a wall built of antique luggage pieces. The layout provides ample elbow room for the company to play up growth lines like cosmetics, home decor and its wedding gown section, as it works to overcome a decline in apparel sales.
“The Anthropologie brand resonates deeply with its customers — however, the customer is also telling us is no uncertain terms the apparel and accessories are currently off pitch,” said CEO Dick Hayne, speaking to investment analysts during an early March conference call.
In the same conference call, Urban Outfitters Inc. executives said the company is close to its maximum store count for Anthropologie at 210 locations and nearly so for Free People, at just over 125 locations, with plans to renew leases as they come up for renewal for performance and “brand appropriateness,” in the words of Frank Conforti, chief financial officer. The new Anthropologie & Co. lease in Westport has a 10-year term.
“We believe North America remains ‘over-stored’ and we believe we are fortunate to remain disciplined in our store growth throughout the years,” Conforti said. “We are planning our new store growth to come from international extension.”
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-354-1047; www.twitter.com/casoulman