San Francisco-based Athleta is coming to Shops Around Lenox.
Sources told me a few weeks back that the lululemon wannabe would occupy the front portion of what is currently Roche Bobois. At that time, I reached out to Healey Weatherholtz Properies, the owner of the center, and was told that while they were in talks, a deal was not in place, and that it would be premature to speak of their opening. This week, the retailer filed plans with the City of Atlanta despite Healey Weatherholtz's denial this week of a deal being in place.
If all goes as it seems it will, Roche Bobois will downsize their current showroom and store to the rear of their current space. Access to the furniture store will be from a yet to be constructed doorway near the Sprint store. Athleta would ocupy about 4,400 s/f in front of Roche Bobois with an entrance facing Neiman Marcus.
Athleta foolishly opened their first Atlanta area store at Atlantic Station last year and surely is regretting it by now. The typical Athleta shopper does not frequent Atlantic Station, but instead centers like White Provisions, home to lululemon, and Shops Around Lenox, also home to lululemon. It has been Athleta's MO to open near existing lululemon stores but to open in the same center is daring, to say the least.
As I've said before, I don't have a real estate license, nor do I claim to be a real estate pro, but I gotta think there shoulda been / woulda been clauses in lulu's lease preventing Athleta from opening. Lululemon and nearby athletic retailer DEKA get along well, and complement each other while Athleta directly competes with lulu and has knocked off their store in many ways. (Sort of like that other site cybersquatting on multiple domains similar to ToNeTo Atlanta)
Lululemon is the market leader when it comes to yoga related apparel, having opened their first store in Vancouver, BC in 1998, and now grown to nearly 200 locations. Athleta, on the other hand, is more of a "me too" brand that while started in the same year as lulu, began as an online only enterprise and has only recently developed a retail store, borrowing many elements from its more popular competitor.
Both Gap and lululemon have been busy recently with each company continuing to both grow their respective yoga brands, while at the same time, continuing to diversify.
Gap announced this week that they have purchased Intermix, a retailer of high end clothing, in a deal valued at $130M. The boutique retailer has one Atlanta-area location at Phipps Plaza. Gap plans to double the chain's store count to about 60 locations, and then look for expansion opportunities outside of existing Canadian and U.S. markets. Gap is also opening bricks & mortar stores of its Piperlime online brand. Piperlime is similar to Zappos, an Amazon.com-owned business, and until recently operated online only. This past fall, Piperlime opened their first storefront location in New York's SoHo neighborhood.
lululemon, on the other hand, has quietly opened a new division, ivivva athletica, (ah-vee-vah) a store similar to lululemon, but targeted at active girls ages 6-14. Ivivva has a total of seven locations open in Canada with a number of temporary "pop-up" locations and showrooms open in the U.S. and Canada, but none thus far in Georgia.
The Shops Around Lenox has changed plenty over the past couple of years. As I detailed in a recent post, spaces left vacant by closures of large stores like Tower Records, Bally Total Fitness and CompUSA have now been filled. New restaurants like Seven Lamps and soon Bhojanic have joined a retail roster that includes both local chains like Fab'rik and national chains like Paper Source. But with so much turnover and success comes the question on everyone's mind: where will people park?
What do you think of all the development at the center? Do you think its plausible that both lulu and Athleta do well or will one "eat the other's lunch.? What is your favorite store in the complex?