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Winter 2014
A Shot of Glamour

A long-time Santa Barbara store tests a pop-up over the holidays.

Glamour House is a long-time fixture in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara, CA. The current owner Ann Picciuto and her husband, Rick Gehrke, purchased the store from the previous owner in 2003. The lingerie boutique was founded in 1965 and has had the same Upper Village location, and even the same phone number, for the past 48 years. Yet just as its fashions have changed with the times, Glamour House has embraced the latest retail trend by opening a new pop-up shop.

The Glamour House pop-up made its debut Oct. 1 and planned on staying open through the holiday season in a storefront location on Montecito’s Coast Village Road, just two miles away. Coast Village Road is known for its high-end shops and art galleries, so despite the proximity to its current location, the tony area was expected to attract a more affluent demographic.

Glamour-House4-copyPicciuto had been keeping an eye on the Coast Village Road area for years. When a former shoe store vacated its 1,000-square-foot space, the landlord was motivated to fill the empty storefront with a short-term lease during the holiday season. Finding an empty retail space in this location that is available for short-term lease is rare, so Picciuto jumped at this chance to “test the waters” with a temporary location. “This gave me an opportunity to make my potential vision a reality and see if it was a viable business model,” she says. The lease on the pop-up boutique ran through December 31, with an option to extend at the end of the term. Picciuto hopes to use the pop-up to reach new customers, as well as cross-promote existing inventory at both locations. “There is opportunity to gain new clients at the existing shop,” says Picciuto. Since Glamour House has a reputation in the community for being a high-end, elegant retail concept, Picciuto believes the lease deal worked for both the retailer and the landlord.

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Pop-up recreation

Customers that walk into the Glamour House pop-up might not recognize it as the typical “here today, gone tomorrow” setup. The store is about the same size as the permanent location and stocks a similar amount of inventory. Even more important, Picciuto was able to create the upscale pop-up, while still keeping her overhead low—an essential ingredient for any short-term store. Picciuto was able to reuse the fixtures and some furniture that was left behind by the previous tenant. The space had beautiful woodwork and hard wood flooring, as well as good lighting and a security system, adds Picciuto. “I got very, very lucky in that the space was lovely to begin with,” she says. Picciuto also took advantage of the fact that her husband is a custom homebuilder and helped her with outfitting the space, which saved on start-up costs. She also called on her nephew, who is in advertising, to create new signage.

Whether or not the pop-up will extend its stay on Coast Village Road will depend on the store’s three-month performance. Picciuto, who has an MBA and an undergraduate degree in accounting, wants to be sure to have a very clear picture of the store’s viability before making a longer-term commitment. “The numbers will drive all of my decisions,” she says.

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Beth Mattson-Teig

Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance business writer based in Minneapolis, Minn. She specializes in covering the national commercial real estate industry.
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