Boyds, the high-end clothing store in Center City, said this week — just days after reopening for the first time in six months — that it would open its second store, in the Philadelphia suburbs, on a temporary basis.
From Oct. 7 to late January, family-run Boyds will operate a pop-up shop with just more than 8,000 square-feet in Ardmore’s revamped Suburban Square, one of the oldest outdoor shopping plazas in the United States that dates to 1928 and is owned by Jericho, N.Y.-based Kimco Realty. Boyds will take over the space from Urban Outfitters for the holiday season, said Kent Gushner, the store’s president.
“It gives us an opportunity to test ourselves,” he said, noting that the suburban store will place greater emphasis on women’s apparel. And if business goes well, the store could consider a permanent location in the suburbs. “We’re very clear it’s not a replica of Center City."
Boyds will expand to the increasingly dense neighborhood in Lower Merion Township as it begins to recoup business hampered by a six-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic and widespread looting that followed protests over the killing of George Floyd during the summer. The move to the suburbs is a first for Boyds, which Alexander, Albert, and Ben Gushner opened in Center City in 1938. Kent is the third generation of his family to run the business.
The retailer, which occupies an iconic, 70,000-square-foot historic building at 1818 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia, was among several small and large stores left to deal with extensive property damage and stolen merchandise after the unrest. Gushner said Boyds spent “more than a couple million dollars” in repairs, but did not disclose the exact figure.
Last year, the store spent $10 million in renovations for its Center City store, which included a larger space for its tailoring area, jewelry department, and women’s section on the first floor.
Like the Philadelphia location, Boyds in Ardmore would be a freestanding store, albeit a much smaller one. An outdoor shopping center such as Suburban Square was a particular draw during the pandemic, Gushner said, as he noticed that some shoppers had grown uncomfortable with indoor malls over concerns of crowding and poor air ventilation.
In a second-quarter earnings call on Aug. 7, Kimco’s CEO, Conor C. Flynn, said that during the pandemic, tenants across the company’s various open-air shopping centers had “worked with us to remove certain lease restrictions that will enhance redevelopment opportunities and create long-term value for our shareholders." Kimco is offering curbside pickup and moving restaurant tables outside.
Boyds will temporarily join an array of other new, high-end storefronts in Suburban Square, which underwent a dramatic overhaul in the last few years after Macy’s closed in 2015. The department store had been an anchor and the biggest tenant at Suburban Square, claiming almost 100,000 square feet.
The real estate investment trust Kimco Realty embarked on a $65 million facelift of the shopping center by replacing Macy’s with Life Time Athletic, which despite its name also offers coworking space and a beauty salon. Kimco also created Station Row, a mixed-use retail and office building constructed over what was once a parking lot.
“There’s a very nice amount of traffic there,” Gushner said.