Photographs by Mary Shustack and courtesy The Westchester
When it’s time to do some serious shopping, there are two destinations that immediately come to mind – The Westchester in White Plains and Greenwich’s namesake, Greenwich Avenue.
Each has its own merits; that’s for sure. Both are WAG favorites; that is also a fact.
And in the interest of, um, research we recently revisited these local favorites.
It was two afternoons of reconnecting with shopping venues that are class acts – and we’re pretty sure you agree.
In the mall
When you think of The Westchester, you think of luxe shopping in elegant surroundings.
The mall is more than 800,000 square feet with some 150 retailers, dining establishments and services filling four floors. And those floors are lined with either marble or carpeting, basking in the sunlight that streams down from intricate skylights. There is art at every turn, from the fountains to the sculptures – horses are a favorite — to the oversize-yet-stylish lighting fixtures.
“We consider ourself to be the premier luxe shopping venue for the very discerning Westchester and Connecticut consumer,” says Winnette Peltz, general manager of The Westchester.
The Westchester, which opened in 1995, is anchored by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, upscale department stores that today continue to set the tone of the mall.
“We kind of prided ourself ever since (on) bringing in something really unique,” Peltz says.
And customers respond, crisscrossing the mall from end to end, top to bottom.
“We have a very loyal customer,” Peltz says, noting that shoppers often make multiple visits each month to see the latest from those anchors (Nordstrom is wrapping up a revamp) plus everything from Gucci to Godiva, Tiffany & Co. to Tesla.
Yes, Tesla. It’s not every mall that has a showroom devoted to a luxury electric roadster. But the sleek boutique has garnered its share of admirers – both browsers and buyers – since its Memorial Day weekend debut, says assistant manager Wendy Chuah.
“A lot of people find the store to be a destination store so they’re coming here to see the Tesla,” she says. But it is indeed unexpected, she adds. “People see a car, and it’s surprising.”
Outside Manhattan, it’s the company’s first new design store on the East Coast, Chuah says.
“This isn’t the typical car dealership. It’s really about the customer experience.”
And that dedication to a good customer experience is echoed throughout the mall, where amenities include valet parking and a concierge with services such as complimentary strollers, plus soft seating scattered throughout.
Shoppers find a mix of veterans and newcomers, with the freshest faces (recently opened or soon-to-be) including Rebecca Taylor, Microsoft, Sur La Table and Tommy Bahama.
“We work towards selecting the best retailers that we see either locally or across the country,” Peltz says.
Stores like Justice and dELiA’s hit the young fashion fans while the grown-up gals (and guys) flock to Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Omega, Dooney & Bourke, Swarovski and Burberry.
They can also pop into Tory Burch or C. Wonder, the bold-and-bright shop of Christopher Burch (Tory’s ex and WAG’s February cover boy).
Shoppers extend their visits with dining options from sit-down to food-court or relax with a bit of pampering at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.
Many of the stores, which range from 800 to 10,000 square feet, are the first of their companies in New York, or in some cases the region.
It’s all about keeping things fresh, Peltz says.
And that includes hosting special events throughout the year. Greenwich Hospital, for example, will present the fourth annual “Simon Fashion NOW” Oct. 5 and 6.
“It’s really our signature fashion event for the fall,” Peltz says. The event, in which more than 30 retailers participate, puts the spotlight on professional runway shows and entertainment. So, mark the calendar and get ready to attend – and shop.
After all, Peltz reminds with a laugh, there’s a charity aspect to the proceedings (the fundraising event will also benefit the Junior League of Central Westchester), which “takes away the guilt.”
On the avenue
Greenwich Avenue offers a shopping experience that combines the charm of a small town with the sophistication of a big city.
Green wooden benches dot its length. It’s home to a church and senior center, a war memorial and post office, art galleries and cafés, restaurants and coffee shops. Hanging baskets burst with blooms, as shoppers of all ages – in stunningly chic fashions – parade by.
And they duck in and out of shops ranging from Michael Kors to Scoop NYC, Longchamp to Kate Spade, Tory Burch to Zara.
It’s the proverbial “something for everyone” with a decidedly fashion-forward edge – leopard-print scarves on display here, sleek handbags there and plenty of glistening gems in between.
Prada dresses grace a window at Saks Fifth Avenue, which like Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. and Richards (see our cover story) are housed in impressive buildings that combine tasteful scale with classic elegance. Just one look at the cinematically dramatic staircase that anchors Richards is proof enough of the flair here.
There is the history of shops such as Betteridge, jewelers with roots reaching to the late-19th century. A Beatrix Potter design graces a baby set while whimsical Herend animals in china tempt from a window of Hoagland’s of Greenwich. There is the contemporary, reflected in the Apple store or the upscale athletic pieces of Lululemon. And the sailing set smiles at the bold Ella Vickers Recycled Sailcloth Collection, which adds a decidedly nautical touch.
Stand at the top of the thoroughfare – just steps from where Duxiana offers the wonders of “The Dux Bed” out of a turreted Tudor building – and look down the avenue’s length for a glimpse of the Long Island Sound.
Get inspired by the design “manifesto” on display in the window of Jonathan Adler – “We believe tassels are the earrings of the home” and “We believe in irreverent luxury,” among others – before stepping in to shop among its lamps and chandeliers, vases and pillows.
Further along the avenue, it’s Lilly Pulitzer frocks and Lacoste tops, Therese Saint Clair stationery and Stuart Weitzman heels. Even Hermès is set to join the mix, with fashionistas eagerly awaiting next spring’s projected opening.
Olivia Kibar heads things up at French Sole, a specialty shoe shop that opened on the avenue in 2009.
A retail veteran, she says she can size up a shopper the moment she walks in the door. One time, she shares, she sensed a woman was going to be a buyer.
And boy, was she right.
Within moments, the customer was pointing from one pair to the next, to the next… to the next. By the time she was done, she had selected 22 pairs – and bought them all.
“I saved the receipt, put it on my desktop,” Kibar says with a laugh.
It may have been a memorable day – but not particularly surprising when your shop is on Greenwich Avenue.
As Kibar says, “That kind of customer, we have.”