Down and Out: Store Closings Spread in L.A.

The shutdowns and consolidations are multiplying at Los Angeles boutiques.

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An epidemic of specialty store closings and consolidations is sweeping through the Los Angeles region as retailers succumb to the recession.

Mulberry, Sergio Rossi and bankrupt Lambertson Truex have shut on exclusive Melrose Place, the shopping enclave that is home to Oscar de La Renta, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera and a recently opened Chloé store, among others. Lambertson Truex and Mulberry closed in February and March, respectively, and Sergio Rossi shut in December.

Lisa Kline, whose namesake store has been a staple on Robertson Boulevard for almost 14 years, said she might eventually consolidate her three stores on the street — women’s men’s and children’s — or seek to renegotiate the rents. In addition, Kline said she is trying to get out of the lease on a fourth store on South Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.

“I have my feelers out there,” said Kline, who emphasized she will stay in business. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I like the stores having their own space, but the whole point is the rent is outrageous and Robertson isn’t busy right now. There are so many vacancies on Robertson now, I’ve lost count.”

Nearby cities such as Santa Monica and Venice Beach are hemorrhaging retail tenants as well.

Dozens of stores have closed along Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue, a main shopping thoroughfare, including contemporary boutiques Jane Smith, Saylor and Il Primo Passo shoes. In Venice, a handful of merchants have called it quits or soon will on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where contemporary boutique Wolf shut its stand-alone store and consolidated to another location.

“You can have the most amazing store and merchandise, but you can’t make people buy things,” said Becca Moon, the manager of Dewey, a boutique that plans to close at the end of April. “There are no small stores opening anymore, and the ones around us in the neighborhood are closing.”

Small stores aren’t the only retailers affected.

French Connection, the U.K. brand that had three Los Angeles boutiques, has shuttered its stores at the Beverly Center mall and in Pasadena, leaving it with one local store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.

Frédéric Fekkai is set to close a flagship salon on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and expand his salon on Melrose Place in Los Angeles.

“Melrose Place is a newer, more modern location that more accurately represents the brand,” said Denise Davila, a spokeswoman for the Procter & Gamble-owned brand. “This will ultimately drive business to a single location, which is what we want.”

Rodeo Drive, the area’s highest-profile shopping street, appears to be withstanding the downturn better than others because most tenants are major companies. However, there are some vacancies.

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