Trend Piece: Chains Swamping Walnut Street Due to High Rent

The Inquirer‘s fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington spoke with longtime Walnut Street style doyenne and shop owner Joan Shepp this weekend about what she’ll do now that she’s being priced out of the store that made the street chic to begin with. While Shepp isn’t sure where she’ll go next (we’ve heard rumblings about Chestnut Street; also, 15th Street), she certainly can’t afford the rent now charged to the “average 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot store…about $22,000 to $34,000 per month.”

In truth, Walnut Street has been expensive for a long time. In 2005, Women’s Wear Daily put it on a list of the most expensive retail streets, and reported that its average rent was $90 per square foot. (It’s now between $130 and $160 per square foot.)

Don Davidow, co-owner of Knit Wit, which moved to Chestnut Street, told Wellington: “Independent, local boutique owners just can’t afford to be on Walnut Street anymore.” And indeed, many of the newcomers are not independent: Intermix, the coming-soon Madewell, Stuart Weitzman, Theory, and potentially J. Crew menswear and C. Wonder.

But is the hammer of doom being lowered too quickly? The idea that Walnut Street is going from some funky, independent, bohemian space to the new King of Prussia may be overstated. The truth is, there have always been chains on Walnut Street, and some have made it while others closed or moved to other streets. Puma, Max Studio, Benneton, Esprit, Kiehl’s, Lush, Waterworks, Design Within Reach, Origins…the list of Walnut Street chain exiles goes on. And in the case of Kiehl’s, it was replaced by A-Bar rather than a chain.

Additionally, when it comes to real estate investment on the street, it’s overwhelmingly local. Most recently, Pearl Properties purchased 1401 Walnut and Allan Domb bought the commercial condos at 10 Rittenhouse Square. Even some local tenants–Lagos, Govberg Jewelers and Holt’s—hang in there.

But is local always better? Joan Shepp’s merchandise is exquisite, but far out of the price range of many Philadelphians and the people who work in the city’s downtown. Or take a look at the old department store Nan Duskin, which was extremely exclusive. It’s now an H&M, which is as affordable, and thus democratizing, as it gets. A Rittenhouse matron would prefer a locally owned fancy department store. A thirtysomething law student will likely find a trip to H&M more appealing.

It’s an important ritual: the Decline of Walnut Street media story. But let’s not pretend it was ever the East Village.

K of P Downtown []

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  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Birds sacked alex smith 5 times. if they can keep tight on those receivers and backs and the te and still get the same pass rush they did on KC, I think they can be effective. PM cant move the way AS was in that game avoiding rushers and scampering down field. PM will look to get rid of the ball not rush so playing tight coverage and consistent constant pass rush is key. love being the underdog. Birds and the over ALL DAY!!!

    • EaglePete

      thats why you always bet against the public. Watch, it will end up 20-17 because everyone expects 42-38.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    and…More increased snaps for Ertz and Casey please. Utilize ALLthe weapons you have.

  • Kevin

    Great stuff as usual Sheil! This is why Chipper believes time of possession is a meaningless stat. It correlates to defensive efficiency, but it isn’t a good indicator. Items such as as plays per drive, points per drive, etc., are much better as they rate to performance and can directly be influenced by the D. Time of possession is skewed by incompletions, time between snaps, etc.

    Also, plays run is a better way of measuring the potential ‘tiredness’ of a defense instead of time of possession. Would you rather run 10 – 40 yard dashes with 15 seconds of rest or 30 seconds? If you condition for 15 seconds, your recovery is even better for 30 seconds, and of course the reverse is true. It will be interesting to see how Knighton and the other big guys on Denver’s line hold up if we can maintain an offensive rhythm. And if PM decides to play tempo too… how much will that impact the Broncos D?

  • cliff henny

    not 100% sold on Davis, but cant blame the guy for his lack of ingenuity. get him couple more player that fit scheme better, and run Allen out of town, maybe he’ll surprise us. glass half full…defense has gotten in a lot of 3rd and longs, so something is working.

    • aub32

      Why wouldn’t teams want to get into a third and long against this defense? I think we had better success at stopping 3rd and 3 or fewer than we did stopping 3rd and 10 or longer.

      • knighn

        If the Eagles Defense ever manages to get an opponent into 3rd down and 80, I might just have to turn off the TV.

  • aub32

    I get DCs are going to try creative looks to confuse the defense, but at some point you just have to line up and play football. Do anyone really think that the Chiefs or any other team is going to fear having their tackle matched up against Boykin? What the hell is Davis trying to get from that matchup? How about putting Boykin on I don’t know….Avery!!! I can only hope that Davis is not thinking, “The Broncos lost Clady. Aww man that creates a great opportunity for Boykin to get in a few rushes. I guess I’ll just leave Nate Allen or Earl Wolfe to cover that Wes Welker guy. I mean sure they may be a little mismatched, but how can I not take advantage of Boykin vs. the backup LT.”