Women’s Wear Daily
04.23.2014
retail-features
retail-features

Boston Retail Moves Closer to Normalcy

Many were hoping for a break in the case perhaps triggered by surveillance tapes from Lord & Taylor’s Boylston Street store that were confiscated by the FBI.

By
with contributions from David Moin, Sharon Edelson
retail-features/news

As investigators in white hazmat suits continued to comb the crime  scene from the Boston Marathon bombings, workers and residents in  downtown Boston were trying Wednesday to resume some sense of routine.

After numerous erroneous reports that an arrest had been made earlier in the day, both the Boston Police Department and the FBI issued statements to the contrary. But by Wednesday evening, reporters were once again camped out at the Westin Hotel waiting for a law enforcement-led press conference that had already been delayed twice.

Many were hoping for a break in the case perhaps triggered by surveillance tapes from Lord & Taylor’s Boylston Street store that were confiscated by the FBI to try to identify suspects in the bombings, sources said.

A Lord & Taylor spokeswoman said simply that the retailer was cooperating with the FBI. The spokeswoman said the identities of the suspects are not known yet. The Boston police said no arrests have been made.

Out in the streets, the neighborhood still looked much as it had after Monday’s blasts, with outdoor café tables strewn with upturned chairs, unfinished drinks and half-eaten meals; tables piled high with bottles of water for marathoners, and white tents pitched in the street for marathon support. Aside from having restricted pedestrian access to Boylston Street, where some stores like Talbots opted to remain closed, locals had little desire to get back to business.

At Barneys New York in Copley Place, Ket Castillo, women’s ready-to-wear sales associate, said, “The morale of the city is not up for shopping, and rightfully so. It’s been mostly browsers, with a few shoppers here and there.”

RELATED STORY: Boston Bombings Put Cities on Alert >>

As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Belvidere and Dalton streets reopened to the public to allow access to the hotels in the area. Also, Boylston Street opened between Massachusetts Avenue and Hereford. But many Boylston Street workers had to work remotely. Ben Levine, an associate at Marlo Marketing Communications, could not say when he and his team would return to their offices at 667 Boylston. Levine, who had been photographing the scene outside his office for hours, provided more than 600 images to the FBI, including two dozen taken right before and immediately after the first blast. “I was just struck by how many people were taking pictures — spectators, media, runners as soon as they finished.”

Shoppers at Copley Place were few and far between, according to sources on the scene. “The city seems so strange. It’s as if most of the people have disappeared,” one observer said. “You could have rolled a bowling ball through Copley this morning. The stores are open, they have a few salespeople, but there are not any customers to speak of.”

As of Wednesday, four stores at The Shops at Prudential Center remained closed, a Boston Properties spokeswoman said.

A sales associate at Free People, who declined to give her name, said the mood at The Shops at Prudential Center on Wednesday was “better than it was yesterday. A lot more stores were closed yesterday. It’s starting to pick up. There’s some traffic coming through the Prudential Center today. Along Boylston Street, mainly restaurants remain closed because they’re at the crime scene.”

Cara Fratto, marketing director of Saks Fifth Avenue at The Shops at Prudential Center, said the store was closed on Tuesday because “we wanted to give everyone a day to be with their family and process [the tragedy]. It happened right outside the store. The street in front of our store is still not accessible.

“We felt it was important to open today,” Fratto said. “We wanted to get everyone together.” Saks Fifth Avenue hired grief counselors to speak to the staff. “Our general manager made everyone feel comfortable about being safe.”

As for the bombings on Tuesday, Fratto said there were “quite a few customers in the building. We tried to keep them calm and get them to feel safe. We were getting customers water and staying with them. Our associates pulled together. We had mothers who couldn’t find children and women who couldn’t find husbands.”

President Obama is expected today for an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

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