Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th began its grand opening celebration in West Hartford on Thursday, April 19.
By Ronni Newton
Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th was the first tenant to sign a lease and inaugurated West Hartford’s new first-class shopping destination with its grand opening at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 19.
“We’re so excited to be part of West Hartford,” said Maria Maurmann, senior vice president of North American Stores, as she watched a steady stream of customers step through the front doors Thursday morning.
Saks OFF 5th is located in a portion of what was formerly Sears, which announced its closing in November 2016. Other tenants slated to open soon in the transformed shopping destination, owned by Seritage Growth Partners, include REI (moving from West Hartford’s Blue Back Square with a planned opening of April 24), Shake Shack (opening April 27), and Cost Plus World Market and buy buy Baby which will open this summer.
The approximately 26,000 square foot department store is Saks OFF 5th’s third Connecticut store, but first to open in the area. The others are in Stamford and Clinton.
Maurmann said that more than 800 brands are featured, for men, women, and children, and unique to this Connecticut store is a beauty department. There’s also a great selection of shoes, handbags, athleisure for both men and women, and a seasonal department which currently focuses on designer sunglasses, straw hats, flip flops, and other summer accessories.
“There’s something for everyone,” Maurmann said as she provided a guided tour through the store. “It’s all about keeping customers in mind,” she said, providing inspiration and fashion-forward styles.
The selection of denim, she said, is a destination itself.
“Oh my gosh,” uttered one shopper as she snagged a distinctive designer shoe from the rack.
“It’s one of the best assortments we’ve had in our stores,” Maurmann said of the designer shoe collection where prices are about a third of regular retail.
Dresses, which are already on sale for 20 percent off their marked discount price as a grand opening special, come from top designers as well as designers that cater to a “modern” look and more conservative styles.
Maurmann said the selection of men’s suits is “amazing,” and shoppers will find the service they would expect in a department store. While there is no onsite tailor, they have an arrangement when alterations are needed.
While Saks OFF 5th offers discounted prices, the merchandise is not factory seconds. “We buy for this brand. We leverage our sister company, Saks Fifth Avenue,” she said. Buyers source merchandise all over the world.
Savings percentages are show on the price tags, and range from 40 to more than 60 percent off “market” price.
“We carry the designer brands, and our blend of the designer brands is better than other [off-price] stores,” Maurmann said. The styles are “relevant and current,” styles you may not find at other off-price retailers which offer past-season leftovers.
The merchandise is beautifully arranged and the aisles are wide and uncrowded. Maurmann said the goal is to provide service and an easy-to-shop experience, along with low prices.
The inventory is constantly changing, as are the brands, Maurmann said, depending on what the buyers find.
Saks OFF 5th also has a private in-house brand, and offers a selection of merchandise that changes with the season and can’t be found anywhere else. Currently the Saks OFF 5th selection features linen – like modern blue and white striped off-the-shoulder shirts for women, and shirts for men. In the fall, the Saks OFF 5th cashmere collection is a coveted item. “It’s something that sets us apart,” Maurmann said.
Saks OFF 5th retains its sister company’s name, and its global reputation. The product quality and customer service carries over to the off-price division, Maurmann said.
“I’m just so excited to have another store in the area,” said Teresa Webb, who made the drive from Glastonbury specifically to attend the grand opening on Thursday. She had a bag full of summer shirts that she was ready to try on.
“I just came in to see if it’s like the others,” said West Hartford resident Maryanne Woodfield, as she scanned the Jimmy Choo display. She said she’s been to Saks OFF 5th stores in Massachusetts, New York, and Florida.
Woodfield had a cart full of summer shirts and denim, and was pleased with the selection in the new store. “They have a lot of designer brands that no one else in the area does,” she said.
To celebrate the grand opening, the first shoppers to arrive each day through Sunday, April 22, will be offered a chance to win a $50 Saks OFF 5th gift card, according to a news release. More information can be found on the website.
Saks OFF 5th at The Corbin Collection is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
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