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Archive for Monday, September 10, 2012

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Lawrence Laundry: New store generating buzz downtown

Women seeking professional work wear excited for White House/Black Market

September 10, 2012

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Earlier this summer, all of my lady friends in their 30s and 40s started overwhelming my Facebook news feed about a new clothing store coming to downtown.

Posts expressing unbridled joy at the prospect of the store White House/Black Market opening in the space formerly occupied by House Parts, 714 Mass., flooded my news stream.

Beyond social media, multiple women have brought the store opening up in conversation. Before the store opened, a group of ladies approached me at church and asked if I knew where it would be located. Then, as I sat outside a coffee shop on Mass. Street a couple days after it opened, multiple pairs of women walked by, talking about the store.

Besides the reopening of Dillons on Mass. Street, I had never encountered such enthusiasm for a new business.

And to be honest, I have never been in a White House/Black Market before. In fact, I barely knew what it sold.

So I did some research. As it turns out, White House/Black Market sells business casual clothing catered to women in their 30s and 40s, but they have clothes fit for women in their 20s all the way up to women in their 80s.

And, not surprisingly, most of their clothes fit into one of two color categories: white or black.

The store is the lovechild of two stores, appropriately and separately named The White House and Black Market. The White House sold white clothing; Black Market focused on black. The merging of the two isn’t as serendipitous as it seems, though. The same people owned the two stores.

White House/Black Market also has regional store locations in Leawood, Overland Park and Kansas City, Mo.

Lawrence’s store manager, Ashley Snyder, believes an opening in Lawrence was an appropriate next step.

“There are not a lot of options for career women in Lawrence. There are very few options for work wear. Also, there aren’t a lot of competitors in Lawrence as far as quality of clothing goes,” Snyder said.

While I usually write about local shops in Lawrence, this store warranted an exception simply because of the excitement about it from local ladies.

When I asked these women why they were so excited about this store coming to town, they answered identically — to Snyder and to each other: “There just aren’t many stores for women in their 30s.”

I guess this should tell other brands something important: Build a store for women traversing the murky waters of youth and adulthood, and they’ll love you forever.

I wandered into White House/Black Market a couple days after it opened and fell a little bit in love. It could have been the free cupcake, the “$20 off an $80 purchase” coupon, or the sweet sales associates that did it for me, but I honestly think it was the clothes. It’s nice to see a store that consistently and uniquely creates well-made, age-appropriate clothes.

However, expect to pay some age-appropriate (read: adult) prices for the clothes sold here. Both the skirt and the dress that caught my eye cost around $120. According to Snyder, the prices are well justified.

“Our level of service is fantastic. We have personal stylists who help women find clothes that will make them feel beautiful. We give such good service and quality because we focus on women and their experience in our store. Our actual motto is, ‘Feel beautiful,’” Snyder said.

White House/Black Market is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

— Ali Edwards can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

Comments

grammaddy 1 year, 10 months ago

Michelle Obama put this store on the map.

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Prana 1 year, 10 months ago

I think Lawrence has plenty of chain stores and stores offering clothes at a reasonable price for young working women. How about the stores owned locally such as Eccentricity (look right next door)! Prices are more in line with what the young professional can afford and you won't find your coworker with the same outfit! These locally owned stores are what Lawrence is about. If you want Banana Republic, White house black market, abercrombie, etc. go to kc. While in Lawrence try out Nomads, Eccentricity, Spectators for your special, higher end clothes, and the rest of our locally owned Jems!

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Ali Edwards 1 year, 10 months ago

I could not agree with you more! I love Lawrence's dedication to local businesses. Thanks for carrying the message for the local shops you mentioned.

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aswan 1 year, 10 months ago

"Very few options for work wear"? "Aren't a lot of competitors as far as quality of clothing"? "Aren't many stores for women in their 30's"? All of those statements I couldn't disagree with more. Sounds like someone didn't do their homework considering if you just walk the 700 block of downtown you will find plenty of options for working women of all ages. As a local paper, I do not understand why the Journal World continues to write about chain businesses. About a month ago, if that, you wrote about how great the Brazilian shoe, Havaianas, were and are and advised you can purchase them at Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus, two chain businesses not even located in Lawrence. Now that was just laughable considering right across the street from the LJWorld the local business hobbs. has had a huge Havaianas window display taking up two windows since the beginning of June. Now you have this article about yet another chain store while two doors down downtown Lawrence has a store, Spectator's, who has catered to women and their dressing needs for 30 + years and strives to have not only impeccable customer service but also carries lines from all across the globe you won't find anywhere else in this region. Or like Prana said, right next door there's Eccentricity or Nomads just across the street who have both been there for years and succeed in catering to young working women. Why not stand behind those businesses instead of always advising your readers to shop the corporate chains?

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deec 1 year, 10 months ago

Because corporate chains buy ads and inserts.

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Ali Edwards 1 year, 10 months ago

Hi Aswan! Thanks for your comment. As I stated, most of my columns specifically talk about local stores. The reason I looked into White House/Black Market is because of the enthusiasm among local ladies about the shop opening-- and most I've talked to are very, very excited.

While in an ideal world, all businesses would be local, I'm happy to see new stores occupying empty storefronts.

I appreciate your dedication to supporting the local shops in town; I stand with you.

-Ali

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asixbury 1 year, 10 months ago

I am excited about WH/BM coming to town. I absolutely love their clothes! The other local stores mentioned are nice, very expensive too (like WH/BM), but I don't like their styles as much as I do this new store. Chain stores aren't all bad. More options are a good thing for everyone.

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aswan 1 year, 10 months ago

@ deec trust me, the local businesses stated buy ads too

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