Sen. Chuck Schumer, center, tried on a suit at the Soho Bloomingdales last Saturday, the stores opening day, with Donald Trumps last fire, Kwame Jackson, runner-up on The Apprentice.
The line snaked four times around metal barriers set up on Broadway in Soho on Saturday. Beefy men in black suits controlled the well-dressed crowd. It wasnt a hip party at the latest nightclub. Bloomingdales was open for business.
The venerable department store has installed a Downtown branch at 504 Broadway, between Spring and Broome Sts., in a landmark cast-iron building that used to house Canal Jeans. The five-story, 90,000-sq.-ft. location is the retailers second Manhattan location, after its longtime flagship at 59th St. and Lexington Ave.
With its Soho outpost, Bloomingdales is targeting a younger, hipper consumer. So far, their strategy seems to be working.
Its great I love it, said Michelle Perry, 25, who lives nearby and picked up lounge pants, a T-shirt and a wrap on her first visit. Its a little more trendy and less conservative than the Uptown Bloomingdales.
More than one shopper praised the stores design, a blend of sleek white and metal details with touches such as exposed brick arches, tin ceilings and metal stars indicating a historic structure. On the ground floor, towering glass vases held a tangle of cherry blossom branches.
I like how everything is very open, said Nicole Belgiorno, 18, an N.Y.U. freshman.
Its such a nice place to work the light makes it, said Lisa Jackson, 24, a makeup artist at the Lancome counter. Jackson transferred from a Bloomingdales in White Plains but said most sales associates at the Soho store were new to the chain.
The Soho Bloomies features hot young designers such as Zac Posen, a merchandising decision not lost on the customers.
Im glad its come Downtown and changed the vibe a little bit, said Jennifer, 35, who works in the neighborhood and said she would never shop at the Uptown Bloomingdales.
Some longtime Soho residents viewed the new Bloomingdales a little more skeptically.
There are far too many people down here, said Robin Goldberg, 49, a resident of Broome St. for 28 years, as she waited in line to get into the store on Saturday. Also, its dangerous.
Goldberg said her 13-year-old daughter visited the store earlier in the day with friends.
She mustve not seen anything, because she didnt call me for money, Goldberg laughed.
Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, said the stores arrival is contributing to the further sterilization and homogenization of the neighborhood.
Soho still has a lot of cutting-edge artists who disdain mass culture, Sweeney said. He said residents also worried about the crowds and trash the store was expected to generate.
Even so, Sweeney acknowledged Bloomingdales had made a genuine effort to communicate with its neighbors.
Although there are problems, they are one of the most community-responsive stores to come to Soho in 10 years, Sweeney said.
Sweeney noted that the stores arrival recalled the Soho of the 19th century, when Lord & Taylor had a store in the neighborhood and Macys was located in the Village.
The buildings granite exterior has also been nicely restored to sparkling white from its former dingy gray. Last Wednesday, as the store was being readied for its opening, painters were putting a coat of white on resin casts of historic filigrees that had been restored to the tops of the columns.