the north face fleeces Buying into the Von Maur concept
April Weitzel of Fairport (left) and Lauren Beck of Brighton unpack handbags at Von Maur in Eastview Mall.
That kind of personal attention to detail harkens back to when department stores were king, when they were a part of all of life’s momentous occasions from selecting that perfect prom dress to meeting Santa Claus during Christmas season.
Walking around the new Von Maur at Eastview Mall, customers will see the grandeur of what department stores could be in the new retail era. Floral centerpieces are placed throughout the store. A grand piano sits in the middle of the first floor retail area ready (with a promise that a pianist will be taking requests once the store opens). There’s a lounge area to relax and rest tired feet (before a second wave of shopping), and a play area with a faux tree for the little ones to enjoy.
As an avid shopper who prefers brick and mortar to online shops, I believe the one retail area that Rochester falls short on is upscale youth apparel. I’ve had to order my daughter’s Ugg boots online (she won’t settle for plain classic styles). And prior to the opening of the North Face store in Victor, I would have to wait for trips to my parents in New York City to stop by the North Face outlet at Woodbury Commons so she could pick up a fleece jacket in a funky shade of purple.
Von Maur is filling that niche with little Uggs, designer fleece and party dresses for the upcoming holidays.
What I found to be interesting about Von Maur is it is offering brands that are available at the new wing of Eastview such as Free People and Vera Bradley. Perhaps the Von Maur customer enjoys one stop shopping.
There is a mix of traditional style clothing, but with a bit of a twist.
The prices are definitely a bit higher. A Ming Wang red crew collar blazer carries a retail price tag of $280 and an Alberto Makali sequin jacket is $350.
Fans of the artistic boho chic casual look will find a large selection of asymmetric style tops in the $90 price range with brand names such as Joules. They can be paired with chunky necklaces that start in the $80 range in the fashion jewelry area.
While the store carries Kate Spade hand bags, it also features a big collection of colorful purses by Ted Baker. Men will find a large selection of apparel as well including higher end designer brands such as True Religion jeans.
Shoppers who lived in areas where there is a Von Maur swear by the store. Free gift wrapping and shipping. Personal shoppers who allow follow ups by phone.
While the store has clearance sales, it does not have coupons. The no coupon policy made me wonder whether Rochesterians will take to the new department store. Rochesterians love their coupons. I often see women clutching them in the hand when waiting in line to check out. Retailers have trained shoppers to wait for sales.
Personally, I am not a big coupon fanatic because I realize the numbers game that retailers play with hosting sales on weekends or specific holidays. But I think there’s a psychological thrill to getting a great deal and that’s why coupons attract shoppers.
So Von Maur will be taking the high end road and not play the discounting game. Time will tell if Rochester shoppers will buy into the concept.
Mary Chao, who covers home and real estate and style, was born with a shopping gene. Her earliest childhood memories include shopping with her mother in the fashionable Ximending district in Taipei, Taiwan. She continues to travel nationally and internationally with her Marine husband to seek new retail experiences and enjoys finding value whether it’s at Louis Vuitton on Champs Elysees in Paris, or her favorite Dollar Tree shop at Panorama Plaza in Penfield.