Fifth Avenue has long have been the summit of Manhattan retail. But high-end gear shop The North Face was initially wary of setting up on the glitzy strip. Nonetheless, the California retailer, which makes adventure apparel for the suburban set, is searching for space to open a new store on Fifth Avenue, a source said.
North Face opened its first Manhattan location near Lincoln Center, at Broadway and 73rd, in 2003. It has since opened stores in Soho and on Madison Avenue.
Not enough European tourists have been making the trek there, so North Face began eyeing a more heavily trafficked locale, the source said. The company initially feared, however, that the area dominated by Saks, Chanel and Tiffany didn’t fit its rugged image.
Lately, Fifth Avenue has been getting down with a younger, hipper crowd-or trying to, at least. Urban Outfitters just opened its doors hawking hipster apparel. Now Joe Fresh, a preppy clothing line found in Canadian grocery stores, will open at Fifth and 43rd Street.
North Face is less concerned about a specific size or location and more about finding the right space to fit its image, said the source. North Face’s Lincoln Center store occupies 8,000 square feet, and the Soho store is 4,300 square feet. With the influx of trendy stores between 42nd and 49th streets, that area looks especially compelling.
Fifth Avenue still boasts the highest asking rents in the city, at around $1,400 a square foot on average, and has one of the city’s lowest retail vacancy rates.
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