Next to Gabbert's, Len Druskin is a pillar of the Galleria. Len himself, a virtual ambassador of the Edina center—you'll see him there almost every day (including weekends), having a morning (and afternoon) coffee at Starbucks, talking to other longtime local retailers, of which there seem to be fewer and fewer (despite the fact that Galleria reports more than half of its 65 tennants are locally owned).
Expect to see Len making a switch to Caribou Coffee—at Southdale Center. Len Druskin is closing its flagship Galleria store at the end of business Saturday, and relocating across the street to Southdale.
But they already have a store at Southdale, you say. True. But that's the company's bargain-driven Len store concept, with outlet pricing. Len Druskin Inc. plans to "return to our roots," company President, Michael Druskin (Len's son) said on Tuesday, with an "all premium" concept at the Simon-owned Southdale. The new Southdale Len Druskin store, to be located next door to Len, will be approximately the same size as the Galleria location and will feature "an eclectic mix" of wearable fashion for men and women. Michael Duskin promises dozens of new brands and a "refreshed product mix."
It's ironic that Len Druskin is leaving Galleria to return to the fashion-driven, upscale retail that made it so popular for many years. The comapany's slide into outlet-style retailing had to be a factor in the notciably slower foot traffic at Galleria in recent months. Lately, the Galleria location—once a purveyor of trend-forward designer fashion—has looked more like a clearance center, with 50 percent off signs throughout the store. That's out of sync with the Twin Cities most upscale shopping center, home to Louis Vuitton and Tiffany's, where even the annual winter sale is called a "clearance experience."
Even so, there are sure to be those that accuse Galleria, owned by Hines Global REIT, of pushing out yet another locally owned store. It has seemed to be a one way road for indie shops since Hines took over. The latest departures include Epitome, Epitome Paper, russsell + hazel, and California Closets.
But Len Druskin isn't pointing fingers—publicly, at least. "Through the years, Hines, Galleria's current owner, as well as Gabbert & Beck, the original owners of Galleria, have been amongst our biggest advocates, in spite of the fact that we are not the most conventional retailer," Michael Druskin said in a statment. "They stood beside us and embraced what we did day in and day out. Both our Galleria stores were special places to us and many of you."
Len Druskin was a Galleria fixture for 24 years. Michael Druskin recalled the days, in a small spot on the main level, when customers would feverishly dig through tall stacks of premium jeans. Back then, brands such as Seven and Hudson were hard to find elsewhere in town.
Len Druskin Inc. currently operates six lower-priced Len stores in City Center, Mall of America, Ridgedale, Rosedale and Southdale centers, and Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL. The Galleria flagship was its only remaining "premium" store, after playing around with names and formats—to the confusion of shoppers—in recent years.
“For three decades, Len Druskin has been a valued fashion source in the Twin Cities,” Galleria’s director of leasing Jennifer Smith said in a statement. “We wish the Druskin family much success with their next move. We are actively looking to fill this space with another retailer in the coming months.”
Len Druskin was one of the larger stores at the Galleria, occuping a huge chunk of the lower level. It takes a destination retailer to make that work at a shopping center where the lion's share of the action happens on one level.
Len Druskin will end its tenure at Galleria with a Blue Tag Sale, through Saturday (Feb. 6). The new Southdale store will open on Tuesday at noon.
"I am really excited about having the opportunity to bring back the original Len Druskin concept and think you will be just as excited to see what we have in store for you," Michael Druskin says. "As we approach the 40th anniversary of this legacy brand, we hope you will celebrate with us in the coming weeks—what was, what is, and what will be for many years to come."