Could it be: Excelsior, a stronger boutique market than Edina? That’s the case, it seems, for Brightwater Clothing & Gear. Nearly two years after expanding to 44th and France on the border of Edina and South Minneapolis, owner Bill Damberg plans to close that location to focus on Excelsior…and other growth opportunities.
“It was good, but not good enough,” Damberg says of his storefront on the street level of the former Durr Limited building, which has been home to other retails concepts, including russell + hazel (which downsized, and moved to Galleria) and a before-its-time boutique department store called Alfred’s. The building has great light and character, and the location—blocks from Linden Hills and 50th & France, surrounded by affluent addresses—seems ideal, but it’s just not a corner for browsing. “Shopping today is about entertainment, and there’s not enough here,” Damberg says. “Sure, there are a lot of people going to France 44 across the street, but they’re on a specific mission; they’re not stopping by to try on a dress.”
It’s an all too typical scenario in this fickle retail market where being even a block away from the action can become a deal breaker (see Jonathan Adler’s Uptown store closing).
The retail run for this sunny corner spot is over for now: Evereve is taking the space to expand its corporate offices, which occupy most of the building, Executive Chairman Mike Tamte confirms. Three Rooms gift store and gallery is the last remaining storefront on the east side of the first level.
Brightwater’s final day in Edina is Jan. 20. A moving sale (back to Excelsior) starts Wednesday, Jan. 13 with 40 percent off sportswear for women and men from many popular (and rarely discounted) brands including Fjällräven, Barbour, Patagonia, Jack Spade, Filson, and Gitman Brothers. Select items will be as much as 80 percent off. (Don’t get too excited: Brightwater’s top-of-the-line winter jackets, bags and blankets will not be marked down).
Meanwhile, Damberg says business in downtown Excelsior is strong and getting stronger (and, interestingly, less price sensitive, he says). But this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Brightwater beyond its home turf on Water Street. Damberg says he’s considering other growth opportunities. Stay tuned!