Urban Outfitters: Chain guns for Thursday opening

100_0294Urban Outfitters takes over the former Hardware Store with bright lights and bare mannequins.

Charlottesville may not be "urban" or in need of "outfitting"– just look at the plethora of boutiques and specialty shops serving the downtown community. Yet despite grumbles about the potential for chain stores to dominate the local economy, Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters is set to open its doors at 10am Thursday, May 21.

Cyd McClelland and Amy Kolbrener of downtown boutique Eloise aren't worried about their new neighbor. Instead, McClelland notes, "I think it's great– more shopping downtown will be better for any of us."

For Eloise in particular, which generally carries higher-end designer clothing and accessories, the competition of Urban Outfitters will benefit the shop, rather than take away from its demographic.

"People who have never been downtown before will come because Urban Outfitters is a well-known name," McClelland says. "We're worried about too many chain stores, but I think Urban will be a nice little addition."

But will it be a necessary economic addition? While the larger economy may still be in the doldrums, several local business owners have reported an "optimistic spring," according to McClelland– while Urban Outfitters' net income dropped a reported 28% this past quarter, according to MarketWatch. Urban Outfitters' CEO Glen Senk said in reports that the company is "well positioned to show improvement over the next several quarters."

Shannon Iaculli, owner of Bittersweet, another woman's fashion boutique, is similarly seeing success in the dull economy. In fact, with business running smoothly downtown, she is in the final stages of opening a second location in Lynchburg.

"It's the right timing, the right space, the right everything," Iaculli says. "I like the boutique experience– for the kind of clothes I sell, people like to touch it, and like the help they get from a boutique."

Will Urban Outfitters be able to recreate the personalized feel their neighboring shops claim to excel in? McClelland touted Eloise's new personal shopping program, where clients can come in before or after hours and shop one-on-one with the store's owners– a policy that does not seem particularly common for stores the size of Urban Outfitters. The company's national appeal, however, may drown out a need for such personalized space; indeed, Urban Outfitters, Inc. is also the owner of Anthropologie, the woman's high-end fashion and home living store, which is set to open in the former Hollywood Video space in Barracks Road Shopping Center in late August– a sure sign the company is confident it will attract enough business despite general economic woes.

Urban Outfitters' hours will be 10am-9pm Monday-Thursday; 10am-10pm Friday-Saturday; and 11am-7pm Sunday.

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Don't have a problem with Urban Outfitters being downtown. I just hate that it's in the old Hardware Store. That space could have been anything. Three story restaurant, sports bar, club, etc.

The LAST thing that needed to be there was a club or late night collection point for idiots. I am glad to see them there.

I'm sorry you haven't been in one. I'll keep you posted.

This is sure to please young people and may stay open later at night than other boutiques on the Mall.

Thank god is isn't going to be some freaking sports bar!!!!!!

yeah FD, cause there are waaay too many of those in town....

FD, let me know where the good sports bars are in town because in 7 years I haven't found them. Please don't say Wild Wings or BW3. Terrible...

"Good" and "sports bar" don't belong in the same sentence.