Shopping spree: Highland Park Village stores to stay open later, like it or not
For shoppers, it's good news: By decree from the landlord, the stores at Highland Park Village have begun observing extended hours, staying open until the after-dark 8 pm rather than the previous sunset hour of 6 pm.
That gives you, the shopper, two extra hours after work to pick up that Anne Fontaine blouse or Trina Turk skirt, plus a chance to do something more than window-shop while waiting for your table at Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar.
For vendors, maybe not so much.
The new hours are part of an effort by the shopping center to capitalize on the momentum being generated by the current crop of prosperous restaurants and remodeled movie theater. From new eateries like Bistro 31 to veterans like Mi Cocina and Cafe Pacific, HPV is enjoying an influx of customers that it would like to see linger longer, says spokeswoman Kersten Rettig.
"Right now, we're trying later hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays," she says. "And then once holiday season arrives, we'll be open until 8 pm Monday through Saturday."
The problem for some tenants is that the longer hours represent a difficult shift change. The old hours of 10 am to 6 pm made for a standard eight-hour day, while the new hours require a 10-hour workday. That complicates the staffing situation for small shops.
And then there's the fact that some tenants have leases so old that they're exempt. Shops like Chanel and Hermes, which have been at the center for decades, have no binder in their leases regarding hours of operation, and they are not observing the new later hours. But newer places such as Madison or newcomer Akris have it written in their leases that they must observe whatever hours the landlord dictates.
Most Villagers put on a public happy face; in private, some grumble about the change.
"A lot of retailers are not happy — but I understand both sides," says one store owner. "I can see where the center would benefit from having more stores open later and maybe create a nightlife atmosphere. And if you look at outdoor malls like the one in Allen, they stay open until 9 pm."
A staffer at one store points out that Highland Park Village has a unique client base. "Does the luxury shopper who's looking for a Carolina Herrera ballgown need to come in between 6 and 8 pm? Probably not," she says.
One longtime shop owner says that this wasn't the first time Highland Park Village management has called for longer hours.
"We have tried it before, several years ago, and it didn't turn out as they hoped. But we're trying to be positive," he says. "It is a little hard to be here and not have anyone come in."
On Friday night, stores such as Q Clothiers, Vince, Madison, Kiehl's, Williams-Sonoma, Rugby, Peepers, Trina Turk and Madison say they haven't seen an uptick in customers but expressed optimism for more business once news of the longer hours filters out.
A staffer at Akris says that things are slow between 6 and 8 pm. "But we did have one shopper who came in at 5 pm and shopped for a while," she says. "She wouldn't have been able to do that with our old hours."