Thursday, November 27, 2014

6500 Square Foot Fashion Flop in Midtown

Flashy retailer a flop in midtown.

Miami-based Republic of Couture (ROC) has closed its midtown Atlanta outpost.  As of Wednesday evening, what appeared to be black trash bag material covered the many windows of the store.  The flashy retailer opened its 6,500 square foot flagship store last May adjacent to Loews Atlanta on Peachtree Street, as part of phase 2 of  Selig Enterprises' "12th & Midtown" project.

If the closure is permanent, this would be a huge blow for the burgeoning "12th & Midtown" development and overall "Midtown Mile." Earlier this year, M Crowd Restaurant Group pulled the plug on its planned Taco Diner restaurant, which would have opened at 77 12th, around the corner from ROC. (Princi Italia has been announced as the replacement for Taco Diner, with an opening TBD.)  

ROC carried contemporary and "fashion forward" men's and women's clothing, as well as shoes, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, watches and other accessories.
In an October 2012 release announcing the store's opening, Shirley Gouffon, senior vice president of retail leasing for 12th & Midtown and Selig Enterprises said "ROC is unlike any other store in the Atlanta market."   Perhaps that was the problem.  The store failed to resonate with the midtown market given its very "unique" look and feel.  

Linda Miller of LM Global Retail Services, who represented ROC in their Atlanta lease, said at the time the lease was signed  "Infused with an opulent South Beach atmosphere, high-end designer brands, as well as low to mid-priced unique styles, ROC will become a major one-stop shopping destination for Atlanta."  

When the store opened last spring, owner Gaston Garcia was on hand for an action packed fashion show that spanned Peachtree Street.  

Photo from ROC Facebook page 
While I never made it in the store myself, I questioned its viability even before the doors opened.  Given the failures of similar boutiques such as Thread House and later eModa (Plaza Midtown) and DrewLewis (Mid-City Lofts and later Shops at Metropolis), one had to question the thought process in opening such a large retail storefront in the heart of midtown.  

When ROC was announced to be opening in Atlanta, it was said that the Atlanta store would be the seventh for the "nationally acclaimed fashion retailer."  As best I can tell, one location exists today known as "ROC Resto Lounge & Fashion" in Coral Gables, Florida.  Another ROC Resto Lounge & Fashion is reportedly opening "Holiday 2014" in downtown Summerlin, Nevada.  

A 10,000 square foot ROC location at Midtown Crossing in Omaha, Nebraska opened in 2010 but closed in 2012.  

There are also internet traces of locations in Chicago (S Delano Ct E) and Center Valley, Pennsylvania (The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley).  The phone number for the Chicago location is "temporarily disconnected," while I could could find no contact information for the Center Valley location.  The Chicago location still has an "active" (last updated 9/29) facebook page.   I could not even find a listing for the Center Valley location on the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley property website.  

Perusing the internet for mentions of ROC, I came across an intriguing policy announced at the time of their opening at the Promenade Shops.  

"Customers who like Republic of Couture on Facebook can save 10 percent "automatically," and by letting a member of the ROC team take their photo and post it to the ROC Facebook page they can save even more

 "While you shop, post to your friends that every 'like' your photo receives results in an additional one percent discount before you check out.

It's unclear whether these policies were in effect at the Atlanta store but I don't know that it would have helped.  Midtown sources report having rarely seen anyone in the store and its closure comes as little surprise to the half dozen nearby residents I spoke with.  

Did you ever shop at ROC?  If you did, what did you think of the experience? If you never shopped, what kept you from checking it out? Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

I was never really sure if they were a clothing store or a sketchy night club, based on the look of it all.

Anonymous said...

I could never understand how this place could turn a profit. Beyond the square footage, my god the frontage. It should be 4 stores. Could someone please tell the building management to cut a deal with a deli already? Instead of leaving half the spaces vacant on both sides of the building...

Anonymous said...

Was just a matter of time on this one. Place was always deserted.

Some sort of fast casual restaurant would kill in that location.

Dan said...

This space would be amazing as a Walgreens or CVS.

Anonymous said...

Dan hit the nail on the head. Mgt should reach out to Walgreens/CVS ASAP if they haven't done so already.

JL said...

It was a poorly thought out, poorly presented apparel concept that lacked credibility with its mish mash of brands, incongruant adjacencies (I believe there as a half hearted attempt at a cafe somewhere near the polyester shirts). The interior looked like someone lost interest in the project - no POV, no excitement - not even the basics of retail design were employed.
Overall, better suited for Coral Gables and Omaha.
As one reader says, better a Walgreen's or CVS - someplace that would generate traffice and increase the corridor's viability for REAL retail and not someone's maligned apparel hobby.

Anonymous said...

Dan is exactly right. I have been saying for the last few years that the heart of Midtown needs a national chain pharmacy store to service the thousands of midtown workers. CVS near Peachtree and 6th is too far to walk for a quick refill pickup for the folks that work on or near 14th and Peachtree.

Anonymous said...

Atlanta will hopefully get it together sometime this century - 85 more years to go - but to be honest, I'm not betting that they will figure it out anytime soon. The little city that could keeps chugging up that hill, but without a plan or destination, they won't ever hit the summit.

Anonymous said...

If you have a CVS near Peachtree and 6th...
Walgreen's would make a perfect balance for this location.

Anonymous said...

Grocery store!!!

Anonymous said...

It's a South Florida thing that doesn't translate well to other markets. They should have gone in to Lennox

Anonymous said...

I'm far from a fashion expert, but I did grow up in Atlanta and prefer the more preppy or put-together looks you'll see around midtown. I thought the fashion at ROC was very out of place for this market... Several friends thought the clothes were more MTV's Jersey Shore than anything else. It was a cool store at first glance, but trying to find something in there was just a weird experience. I ended up buying a Georgia Tech t-shirt for $10 and never went back.