When the Wrong Saks Comes to Town
By Tom Ryan
Some retailers at the Bridgeport Village fashion lifestyle center in Portland, Oregon, were happy to hear about a Saks coming to their complex but were caught off guard when they realized it was actually the luxury retailer’s Off 5th discount concept.
The 28,000-square foot location, opening in September, will be the chain’s 12th “in a new ‘luxury in a loft’ design that aims for a modern and — without aisles — open feel,” according to an article in The Oregonian.
Fred Bruning, chief executive of CenterCal Properties, which owns Bridgeport, told the paper that the concept looks like a mini department store. Jewelry departments are similar to Saks’ full-price locations; with one Off 5th store he toured selling a $20,000 piece.
“We feel this will really fill a retail gap that exists here in Oregon,” said Mr. Bruning.
About 20 percent of the Off 5th merchandise is from full-price stores, another 20 percent is private label, and the remainder is especially made for the store.
“We work with brands that you would find in other luxury retailers, whether Saks or Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. We just work with them to create a value product,” Robert Wallstrom, president of Off 5th, told the Oregonian.
The 500,000 square foot open-air center is located in one of the Portland metropolitan area’s most affluent areas. Tenants include the Apple Store, Container Store, Crate & Barrel, Tommy Bahama, BCBGMAXAZRIA, J. Crew, Banana Republic, MAC Cosmetics and Ann Taylor Loft. It also includes restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s as well as the largest Regal Cinema in the state. The move comes as Saks just announced plans to close its full-price store in downtown Portland.
Mario Bisio, who operates upscale apparel stores at Bridgeport and in downtown Portland, said he was less worried about competition from Off 5th than the off-price connotation.
“We have to be careful. There’s an outlet mall in Woodburn, but this is not an outlet mall. It’s a mixed message,” he said. “Still, I have mixed emotions. There’s a little cachet to having a Saks at Bridgeport and that may be the greater good.”
The move comes as Nordstrom is opening its Rack concept in atypical locations, including in Union Square in New York City. Neiman Marcus is also testing a lower-priced concept.
Discussion Questions: Is the arrival of off-price luxury concepts such as Off 5th and Rack healthy or unhealthy for other tenants at upscale lifestyle centers? Do you expect to see more off-price concepts owned by luxury stores moving into non-outlet locations?
- Saks Fifth Ave. discounter, Off 5th, comes to Oregon, upsets other retailers – The Oregonian
- Neiman Marcus Tests Discount Concept – Women’s Wear Daily
- Will Nordstrom’s Discount Stores Hurt Its Brand? – CNBC
- Union Square’s Nordstrom Rack Opening Early May – NBC New York