Women’s clothing boutique Eccentricity in Cherry Creek North to close – The Denver Post

Gayle Larrance has sold women’s clothing and accessories in Cherry Creek North for 30 years, moving her high-end boutique from location to location. But the storefront at 290 Fillmore St. will be Eccentricity’s last stop.

Larrance plans to close the store by mid-September.

She says it’s time for her to look for something else to do, but her exit is yet another departure of an independent business from the posh shopping district, where development has driven up the cost of rent and made way for more national retail brands.

There were no chain stores in the neighborhood when Larrance started her business.

“It’s always sad to see someone like that go, because what goes in and replaces it?” asked Joe Covell, part-owner of the Lawrence Covell shop on Steele Street at the east end of Cherry Creek North.

Some longtime independent shops remain, such as The Vineyard, a privately owned wine store across from Eccentricity that has been on Fillmore Street since 1971. But down the block is a Men’s Wearhouse and a corner Starbucks. Next door to Eccentricity, at 250 Fillmore St., construction workers are preparing the foundation for an underground parking garage that will serve a seven-story office building overhead.

New projects completed, started or announced since 2010, are projected to increase retail space by 25 percent and office space by 33 percent, according to a January Cherry Creek Area development report. Hotel rooms are expected to increase 300 percent and residences are expected to grow 270 percent over the same period.

All that development comes both with positives and negatives, Covell said.

“Long term, it’s good for the property value. But rents go up, and that brings in more national tenants and gets rid of some of the independents,” Covell said. “That to me is unfortunate, because if it starts becoming more cookie-cutter, it’s not interesting.”

After the area’s height restrictions were modified, major changes began in Cherry Creek North, Larrance said. Developers started building up and out, making way for well-heeled national brands to move in. The changed market conditions have allowed landlords to charge more for rent, which has forced some independent retailers out of the neighborhood.

The average retail lease rate in Cherry Creek was $31.34 per square foot in the second quarter of this year, according to CBRE data, though “high-end rates for the area can push $75 per square foot.” Rates in Denver were $16.77 per square foot. The retail vacancy rate in Cherry Creek North for that time was 4.1 percent, compared with 5.6 percent in Denver.

“Although the data shows average lease rates for Cherry Creek North in the low thirties, that may not include all of the higher-end leases,” CBRE vice president of Denver retail services Michael Kendall said in an e-mail. “For new deals in the key properties, we expect lease rates in the mid-to-high $40s per square foot for Cherry Creek North, even pushing into the $60s and low $70s for the choicest properties.”

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 05: Eccentricity is closing in Cherry Creek North, August 05, 2016. Owner Gayle Larrance ran the boutique for 30 years. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)
Eccentricity is closing in Cherry Creek North.

Of the nearly 600 businesses in Cherry Creek North, 260 are retailers, said Jenny Starkey, director of marketing for the business improvement district. Of the 260 retailers, she said, 70 percent are independent and locally owned.

Starkey said the district is conducting a retail mix study with the city to look at historical area data and national retail conditions. She said she could not provide numbers related to what percentage independent retailers comprised previously in Cherry Creek North, or how their ratio with national brands has changed over time.

Terry Garbarini, owner of the independent Garbarini boutique one block west of Eccentricity’s storefront, said she was surprised to hear about the store’s closing because it has had a stake in the neighborhood for so long.

Larrance said she will officially announce the closing to customers Wednesday with a storewide 25-percent-off sale.

Eccentricity’s online store, which opened a few months ago, will close in the next two weeks. It generates a very small percentage of sales, Larrance said, and was not something she had much interest in pursuing.

“It’s much more of a one-on-one kind of store,” she said. Business comes from word-of-mouth.

When Eccentricity became a full-fledged clothing store, Larrance said, she began styling a lot of her customers for everything they wore. She knows many of her clients on a first-name basis.

“That was the exciting part for me,” she said. “I enjoy the one-on-one with customers.”

She would travel to markets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas to find gifts, women’s clothing and jewelry that were unlike anything else in town. She began adding more home accessories to the store’s inventory this past year.

“That’s what I work very hard to do in this store, to keep it special,” she said.

The extras — like the hand-shredded ribbons and gift wrapping Larrance has done since she opened the boutique — add a personal touch that has kept customers coming back. Many of them have shopped with her since she opened the store in 1986, she said.

“Everything she touches has been so creative and unique,” longtime customer Kathy Heidtbrink said of Larrance’s inventory. “She came up with all the traditional pieces that people needed and wanted, and then she threw in these uniquely fabulous things,” she said, pointing to crafted silverware and a display of ceramic plates.

Larrance said she decided to shut down Eccentricity because she couldn’t bear the thought of selling.

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 05: Boutique owner Gayle Larrance's store, Eccentricity, is closing in Cherry Creek North, August 05, 2016. Gayle Larrance, left, tells long time customer Kate Johnson thanks for her support. Larrance has owned the boutique for 30 years. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)
Boutique owner Gayle Larrance’s store, Eccentricity, is closing in Cherry Creek North. Gayle Larrance, left, tells long time customer Kate Johnson thanks for her support. Larrance has owned the boutique for 30 years.

“I’m so hands-on and so involved with the buying and the selling and the displays and my customers,” she said, “I can’t imagine anyone else doing it.”

She plans to lease the space and said she would love to have an indie tenant move in next. She shares the building with her husband, Don, who owns Perry and Co. real estate agency.

Larrance plans to stay in Denver, where her 9-year-old grandchildren live. But as for what she’ll do next, she said she has no clue.

“But that’s the fun part,” she said. “I’m leaving the door wide open.”

Gayle Larrance has sold women’s clothing and accessories in Cherry Creek North for 30 years, moving her high-end boutique from location to location. But the storefront at 290 Fillmore St. will be Eccentricity’s last stop.

Larrance plans to close the store by mid-September.

She says it’s time for her to look for something else to do, but her exit is yet another departure of an independent business from the posh shopping district, where development has driven up the cost of rent and made way for more national retail brands.

There were no chain stores in the neighborhood when Larrance started her business.

“It’s always sad to see someone like that go, because what goes in and replaces it?” asked Joe Covell, part-owner of the Lawrence Covell shop on Steele Street at the east end of Cherry Creek North.

Some longtime independent shops remain, such as The Vineyard, a privately owned wine store across from Eccentricity that has been on Fillmore Street since 1971. But down the block is a Men’s Wearhouse and a corner Starbucks. Next door to Eccentricity, at 250 Fillmore St., construction workers are preparing the foundation for an underground parking garage that will serve a seven-story office building overhead.

New projects completed, started or announced since 2010, are projected to increase retail space by 25 percent and office space by 33 percent, according to a January Cherry Creek Area development report. Hotel rooms are expected to increase 300 percent and residences are expected to grow 270 percent over the same period.

All that development comes both with positives and negatives, Covell said.

“Long term, it’s good for the property value. But rents go up, and that brings in more national tenants and gets rid of some of the independents,” Covell said. “That to me is unfortunate, because if it starts becoming more cookie-cutter, it’s not interesting.”

After the area’s height restrictions were modified, major changes began in Cherry Creek North, Larrance said. Developers started building up and out, making way for well-heeled national brands to move in. The changed market conditions have allowed landlords to charge more for rent, which has forced some independent retailers out of the neighborhood.

The average retail lease rate in Cherry Creek was $31.34 per square foot in the second quarter of this year, according to CBRE data, though “high-end rates for the area can push $75 per square foot.” Rates in Denver were $16.77 per square foot. The retail vacancy rate in Cherry Creek North for that time was 4.1 percent, compared with 5.6 percent in Denver.

“Although the data shows average lease rates for Cherry Creek North in the low thirties, that may not include all of the higher-end leases,” CBRE vice president of Denver retail services Michael Kendall said in an e-mail. “For new deals in the key properties, we expect lease rates in the mid-to-high $40s per square foot for Cherry Creek North, even pushing into the $60s and low $70s for the choicest properties.”

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 05: Eccentricity is closing in Cherry Creek North, August 05, 2016. Owner Gayle Larrance ran the boutique for 30 years. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)
Eccentricity is closing in Cherry Creek North.

Of the nearly 600 businesses in Cherry Creek North, 260 are retailers, said Jenny Starkey, director of marketing for the business improvement district. Of the 260 retailers, she said, 70 percent are independent and locally owned.

Starkey said the district is conducting a retail mix study with the city to look at historical area data and national retail conditions. She said she could not provide numbers related to what percentage independent retailers comprised previously in Cherry Creek North, or how their ratio with national brands has changed over time.

Terry Garbarini, owner of the independent Garbarini boutique one block west of Eccentricity’s storefront, said she was surprised to hear about the store’s closing because it has had a stake in the neighborhood for so long.

Larrance said she will officially announce the closing to customers Wednesday with a storewide 25-percent-off sale.

Eccentricity’s online store, which opened a few months ago, will close in the next two weeks. It generates a very small percentage of sales, Larrance said, and was not something she had much interest in pursuing.

“It’s much more of a one-on-one kind of store,” she said. Business comes from word-of-mouth.

When Eccentricity became a full-fledged clothing store, Larrance said, she began styling a lot of her customers for everything they wore. She knows many of her clients on a first-name basis.

“That was the exciting part for me,” she said. “I enjoy the one-on-one with customers.”

She would travel to markets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas to find gifts, women’s clothing and jewelry that were unlike anything else in town. She began adding more home accessories to the store’s inventory this past year.

“That’s what I work very hard to do in this store, to keep it special,” she said.

The extras — like the hand-shredded ribbons and gift wrapping Larrance has done since she opened the boutique — add a personal touch that has kept customers coming back. Many of them have shopped with her since she opened the store in 1986, she said.

“Everything she touches has been so creative and unique,” longtime customer Kathy Heidtbrink said of Larrance’s inventory. “She came up with all the traditional pieces that people needed and wanted, and then she threw in these uniquely fabulous things,” she said, pointing to crafted silverware and a display of ceramic plates.

Larrance said she decided to shut down Eccentricity because she couldn’t bear the thought of selling.

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 05: Boutique owner Gayle Larrance's store, Eccentricity, is closing in Cherry Creek North, August 05, 2016. Gayle Larrance, left, tells long time customer Kate Johnson thanks for her support. Larrance has owned the boutique for 30 years. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)
Boutique owner Gayle Larrance’s store, Eccentricity, is closing in Cherry Creek North. Gayle Larrance, left, tells long time customer Kate Johnson thanks for her support. Larrance has owned the boutique for 30 years.

“I’m so hands-on and so involved with the buying and the selling and the displays and my customers,” she said, “I can’t imagine anyone else doing it.”

She plans to lease the space and said she would love to have an indie tenant move in next. She shares the building with her husband, Don, who owns Perry and Co. real estate agency.

Larrance plans to stay in Denver, where her 9-year-old grandchildren live. But as for what she’ll do next, she said she has no clue.

“But that’s the fun part,” she said. “I’m leaving the door wide open.”

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