Billboards advertise a new womens designer store, Catherine Malandrino, to open soon at Hudson and 13th Sts.
Are designer purses replacing plungers and pliers at the former Garber Hardware store space at 49 Eighth Ave.? Will the area on the western edge of the Meat Market soon be known as the Bag District of course, soon to be abbreviated to Bagdi?
The Garber space has been the subject of recent rumors that it may become home to a new Louis Vuitton store or possibly a Guccis second-line shop (a Gucci store with less-expensive items).
The rumors out there, and where theres smoke, theres Gucci or Vuitton, some think. At her Oct. 8 launch party, Ann French Emonts, who recently opened a new womens dress shop on Horatio St. at Eighth Ave., asked a Villager reporter, Is it true? Is Louis Vuitton moving into Garbers.
Ive heard it from multiple people around the neighborhood, said Annie Washburn, manager of Darling, of the Vuitton rumor. Something big is going in there. Its a really big space. Its got four storefronts, a really big ceiling, a big basement.
On the afternoon of Fri., Oct. 10, Tom Schoen, a co-owner of Garber, was doing a final cleanup inside the 100-year-old store in preparation for moving out on Oct. 15. Schoen said a local woman had popped her head in a few days before and told him about the Vuitton rumor.
She told me it was going to be a bag store. Said they were going to sell bags for $2,000 or $3,000, he said, as workers nearby used power drills to take down pegboard display walls.
As of Oct. 7, Garber has been open at a new location at Greenwich and 10th Sts. Schoen said they moved not because their rent got too high but because they were looking for a bigger space. But he said he couldnt help noticing the big construction shed for a new womens designer store, Catherine Malandrino, across Hudson St. from the towering new Hotel Gansevoort, currently under construction in the Meat Market. Covered by billboards of a model hefting a luxurious purse on her shoulder, the Malandrino store is slated to open in December; Yoyomart, apparently a Japanese store, is also opening then on the same block.
A spokesperson denied that the bag store planned to open at the former Garber space. A Louis Vuitton is not opening in the West Village, she said, adding, I got confirmation from the horses mouth, so to speak.
The spokesperson said she couldnt say, however, if it wont be a store for one of Louis Vuitton parent company LVMHs other 60 brands, such as Christian Dior, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy or Tag Heuer.
But the spokesperson referred The Villager to a second spokesperson, who said, Ive checked into it and we dont believe its an LVMH brand.
Art Leshon, head of Gucci real estate, did not return calls for comment.
Whatever happens to this particular space, Villagers have certainly noticed the changes in the streetscape. Arthur Stoliar, a longtime Jane St. resident and former Community Board 2 chairperson, said hes having a hard time adjusting to the neighborhoods commercial makeover.
I cant believe it when I walk down Jane St. and see all these new boutiques, he said. Its like Madison Ave. What I want to know does anybody shop there?