There was excitement today in Southern California as one of New York City’s oldest retailers, Henri Bendel, set up a small boutique store in South Coast Plaza. This is phase one of the Bendel invasion, as another store is coming soon to The Beverly Center. If you read my blog, you know I love me some Henri Bendel. When in New York, I always stop in the Fifth Avenue store. When I appeared on ABC-TV, I had my make-up done at the Trish McEvoy counter at Bendel’s. Only at Bendel’s, can you walk up to the counter and say, “Excuse me, I’m on TV in 20 minutes, can you help me?” And they accomodate! For me, its always been the place to go in New York for unique items and customer service. The phrase, “all the pretty Bendel things” is indeed true. Take it from me, I have the charge card bills to show it. However, Bendel’s NY has also been know for some great sales. Every now and then, even as a Recessionista, I require some customer service and attention. So, when Henri Bendel has a sale, I hear its siren call. Sign-up for their mailer to find out when the savings are happening. Unfortunately, there are no big discounts or sales at the OC store, but this Henri Bendel store features mostly accessories, jewelry and holiday items. The items and selection are smaller than the New York store and so are the price points. I think this is the new Bendel strategy. The store selection reminds me of what the smaller Harrod’s boutique stores in the UK at at Heathrow and Gatwick. What is being sold is really a selection of Henri Bendel branded items that denote the Bendel experience as the ultimate girlfriend’s shopping excursion. Think luxury, babbles and bling rather than a full-on department store.
For those who may know about the original Henri Bendel, he was the French Milliner who brought Coco Chanel’s designs from Paris to the US to be carried at his stores. Chanel and Bendel went together like Fred and Ginger. In the old NY store, there was a Chanel clothing boutique. There are still some clothes sold at the NY store, high-end jewelry on the second-floor and of course the Frédéric Fekkai hair salon on the fourth floor. At Christmas, you’ll still find the beautiful Yummi Glass hearts on the mezzanine by the elevator.
But today’s Henri Bendel is more focused on accessories, handbags, jewlery and smaller items in keeping with the current economic climate. And that is what the new Orange County store is all about. So if you are a Bendel brand lover, then the South Coast Plaza store is for you.
Here’s a sneak peak at what you’ll find at the new Orange County Henri Bendel store, opening this Friday, Nov. 6th. The Beverly Center store is scheduled to open after Thanksgiving. More Bendel boutiques like these are scheduled to open around the US.
You get the idea. Its all about the Bendel brand. There are coffee mugs, notepads, calendars, and even dog bowls with the Bendel brand all over them.
So if you love Henri Bendel and you want to buy a little piece of the Bendel NY experience, then this store is for you. Just be aware that this is not the old New York Bendel’s on Fifth Ave. This is a new store for a new economy.