How did you get the idea to open the store and what is the team’s background in the fashion business?
The idea came from the fact that over the years, many women have shopped for themselves at my men’s store, The Archive, and asked when a women’s store would open. That told me that an entire audience was being missed. My background, as the owner, stretches back nearly 30 years in retail. I learned the business from the bottom up, stockroom to sales to buying at many of the top independent boutiques. My team previously worked in top sales and merchandising positions at Barneys, Fred Segal, Neiman Marcus, to name a few.
How is it different from other boutiques in the area?
In every way possible. The ambiance is much edgier, the designers are not available at any other store in San Francisco (and often not in the U.S.), we have a full bar to serve complimentary drinks to our clients, iPads are available for our clients to use while in the store. My team is trained to make the shopping experience the most welcoming and fun one possible – nothing intimidating about coming into Downtown.
What is your “typical” shopper looking for?
Clothes, shoes, jewelry, bags that they cannot find anywhere else. A level of old-world craftmanship that is missing from even very expensive designer collections.
Have you owned other similar stores?
Yes, The Archive on Sutter St. and a private buying service for women called Clothing Ventures, both since 2005.
What store was formerly in the space that you now occupy?
It was vacant for ten years and prior to that was the Iron Horse Bar and Restaurant.
What is your vision on how to interact with the community in the long term?
By providing a completely unique shopping experience and offering the world’s most interesting fashions, the community (those of a fashion mind) will have a true destination right at their doorstep.
Do you ever have seasonal sales – when and what are they like?
We have two sales each year, at the close of each season (spring/summer sales in June and July; fall/winter sales in December and January). Most of our collections are marked down from 30-70% during this time.
Is there an international flair to the store, and what region does it emphasize?
Only three of my designers are Americans, everyone else hails from around the world with a focus on Japan (Downtown is known globally as the store for hard to find Japanese designers). There are also many from France and Italy.
You can find the Downtown Shop at 55 Maiden Lane in San Francisco’s Union Square area. (415) 975-4400