Walnut Street: Steve Madden, Barbour Closing; News on Free People and Aritzia

Yesterday I got a tip that a new store was heading to Walnut Street sometime this year, so I headed there to get photos of the space to do a post. I noticed Steve Madden next door was closing. As you know I monitor what’s happening in Center City, openings, people out and about, restaurants and occasionally closings. I don’t always like to highlight the closings as people throw blame around, when it’s often the bottom line. Money, have you shopped at a brick & mortar lately? Rent. For years the rents have been rising on Walnut, especially in the last decade when Joan Shepp , Knith Wit moved from Walnut to Chestnut St.; Last week I wrote about Williams-Sonoma closing at Broad & Walnut, I had known for awhile the Bellevue had plans on building out their ground floor for a new concept. So when I saw the sign and Instagramed it, even with my explanation people blamed safety, the City, and not the concept Bellevue has in mind. Over the past 3 years there have been a lot of retail closures in Center City. It’s not always the reasons you think.

The stretch of Walnut Street west of Broad will likely experience a rash of closures due to flagging performance and/or expiring leases, multiple retail brokers told Bisnow. While some landlords are looking forward to the opportunity to revamp long-occupied spaces and fill them with tenants more relevant to current trends, the turnover will be disruptive near term, and potentially damaging long term. – This article was written pre pandemic, January 6, 2020. Walnut Street was influx already because of expiring leasing, rising rents, competition from malls as well as online. Then the pandemic struck. (BTW even though Stephen Starr’s Alma de Cuba is closed now, soon it will open under a new concept)

In December 2020, the Inquirer did an article on what the pandemic was doing to retail, specifically Walnut Street. Report: Center City retail is being decimated by the pandemic. ‘It’s horrible.’ We are in unprecedented times in our lifetime. It’s up to us to save retail in the City. Restaurants are booming, maybe not in January as it’s normally a slow month, we hibernate. But for all the folks who head to restaurants for dinner, stop by one of the stores and buy something. Shop Center City when you feel comfortable. Retail depends on it.

When I stopped into Steve Madden, they told me they had just put up the store closing sign earlier in the day, and sales were slow. I told them I would get the word out, especially when she told me everything in the store was $10. I came back an hour later and the store was basically cleaned out. So don’t bother going as they told me they weren’t going to restock. BTW Steve Madden offered employees jobs at other stores, as well as employees have been applying for jobs in town. Everyone is hiring. I caught the always fashionable Alex Holley, Fox 29 Good Day and stylist to the stars Arnold Milfort picking up a dozen or so shoes and accessories . Steve Madden will close this week, if not today as I am sure they sold out. Arnold does Alex’s fashion, and it is on point and lit!! Super nice guy too.

I appreciate all my readers who tagged me on social media thanking me.

Moving into the old H&M store next door to Steve Madden is Women’s Fashion Boutique Aritzia. There’s one in KOP. Work has started on the property. Thanks to the reader who send me the info, along with details of property. I had forgotten Nan Duskin once occupied this spot in the 70s, then Border’s in 80s until March 2003, when they moved to 1 South Broad St., then Xpress, then H&M occupied this location. Which is now a Walgreen’s. Which unfortunately took a bite out of the competition for…

the CVS at 1424 Chestnut Street. In the 90s the Barnes & Noble used to occupy this space before they moved to the 1800 block of Walnut Street.

Jacob Reed’s Sons had occupied this site from 1905 until they went out of business after 105 years, when B&N took over the space, in the arts & craft’s style building. I cringed when CVS took over. A lot of folks might not know but I was a volunteer tour guide for The Architectural Foundation for many years in the 90s and 00s before becoming Philly Chit Chat. This was my tour beat.

Many of my readers mentioned Barbour Philadelphia 1517 Walnut St is closing on January 23, 2022. They are having a final sale of 40 % off or greater sales until then, no returns.

So many of my readers asked me what happened to Free People at 1625 Walnut St. Sure enough everything was gone, in fact all the way down to the studs.

But don’t fret, the store is only temporarily closed.

Google Photos

A reader tells me they’re moving up the street to the former location of the Jack Willis at 1617 Walnut St. Look for a summer opening. In the meantime, support our brick & mortar when you can. Thank you readers for the tips. There is hope for the future. The endemic is near. I really like this article by Paul Levy, from Center City District for the Philadelphia Citizen. Believe in Walnut Street’s Future Philly is a hot market, we will continue, and I will continue to be out there to tout all there is to be excited about. Like record number of new buildings. People want to be here.