Turning celebrity cachet to cash

From a Nashville honky-tonk to a family-friendly eatery in West Hollywood, familiar faces continue to jump into the retail realm

May.May 01, 2017 01:00 PM

Jessica Biel’s family-friendly restaurant, Au Fudge, opened last year on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.

Seems there’s hardly a well-known entertainer anywhere who hasn’t caught the retail bug. Stores. Restaurants. Hotels. The U.S. — and, increasingly, the rest of the world — is lousy with establishments attached to a star’s name. “The celebrity craze continues in retail,” said Faith Hope Consolo, who chairs the retail group at Douglas Elliman. Here’s a look at the star-powered deals that have gone down recently.

Dash

In December, the Kardashian clan (Kourtney, Kim and Khloé) shuttered the boutique apparel chain’s store in Manhattan’s Soho, which cost them a reported $1.4 million a year. Although venues in West Hollywood at 8420 Melrose Avenue, and Miami Beach at 668 Collins Avenue, are still open, the plan is to expand their online business with a fashion collection to fit each sister’s style, according to Consolo. “They feel the web is where their growth is,” she said. Thus, when you click on each sister’s picture, you’ll see her own unique style of clothing.

Fabletics

Actress Kate Hudson’s line of women’s sportswear is making major inroads into the world of brick-and-mortar commerce. Her fashion line, Fabletics, was launched as an online subscription retailer in 2013; its parent, TechStyle Fashion Group, opened 18 locations in 2016. Twelve new stores — including outposts in Indianapolis; Frisco, Texas; and Paramus, New Jersey, among other places — are planned for 2017, and the company hopes to have 100 shops  in three to five years. “I don’t think that’s unrealistic,” said James Cook, director of retail research for the Americas for JLL. Fabletics is going head to head with such players as Lululemon Athletica and Lolë. Working with mall developers including Simon, Westfield and Macerich, among others, the brand’s new stores will average just over 2,200 square feet.

Alan Jackson

Au Fudge

Jessica Biel’s very upscale, family-friendly restaurant on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood debuted late last year. The 3,467-square-foot space features a playroom with a drawing station, books, karaoke, a treehouse and “au pairs,” who look after the kids. There are also various activities throughout the week, like toddler music classes and pizza-cooking workshops. Rents in that area range from $10 to $20 a square foot per month, according to Cushman & Wakefield  associate Carter Magnin, although restaurants tend to be at the lower end of that range.

AJ’s Good Time Bar

Country singer Alan Jackson opened this 6,000-square-foot, three-story honkytonk last October. Named after his 2008 hit “Good Time” and located on Nashville’s historic Broadway, it boasts a rooftop patio and lot of music. The country legend reportedly bought the property, the site of the former The Wheel and The Wheel Cigar Bar, for $5.75 million. Jackson also is a partner in Acme Feed & Seed, a bar, restaurant and concert venue on Lower Broadway that opened in 2014.

Chicken + Beer

In December, the Grammy-winning hip hop artist Ludacris (Christopher Bridges) launched a 90-seat restaurant in Atlanta’s sprawling Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with chef Andrew Tabb. Named for the rapper’s third studio album released in 2003 and almost four years in the making, the eatery serves Southern-comfort-style food (Luda’s chicken and pecan waffles, crawfish and corn fritters, and shrimp and grits, for example) and locally sourced craft beers. The restaurant was launched with Jackmont Hospitality, which owns and operates restaurants for Atlanta Restaurant Partners, and was part of $3 billion worth of contracts awarded in 2012.

Draper James

Last fall, Reese Witherspoon opened her second store, which is 1,800 square feet, at Highland Park Village in Dallas. The price per square foot is about $185, according to Rob Basiliere, CBRE Senior Research Analyst for Retail in Texas and Oklahoma. The south of the Mason-Dixon Line-inspired collection, which JLL’s Cook described as having a “Southern-modern feel,” debuted as an e-commerce business in May 2015, and its first boutique was started in Nashville a few months later. Born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville, Witherspoon has her products sport regionally appropriate labeling. (Think “Totes, y’all”).

Leonardo DiCaprio

Blackadore Caye

There’s a long history to this yet-to-be-opened resort. About 10 years ago, Leonardo DiCaprio and a partner reportedly spent $1.75 million to buy 104 acres of unpopulated land off the coast of Belize. While much of the island will be designated as a conservation area, part of an attempt to address the area’s eroding coastline and deforestation, it will also feature an eco-friendly luxury vacation spot. Homes and bungalows will be built with eco-conscious technology and design features, like a no-fossil-fuel policy, along with solar panels and an on-site treatment facility for waste and rainwater, among other features. The resort, which includes retail, is slated to open in 2018.

The Row

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen launched their second brick-and-mortar location in 3,725 square feet in a three-story townhouse on East 71st Street in Manhattan last spring. Rent is $2 million a year, according to Consolo. Featuring their fashion line, the store was decorated to the nines by interior designer superstar Jacques Grange, with art pieces by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and a Frank Lloyd Wright mirror, among other goodies. They opened their flagship location in L.A. in 2014, eight years after introducing their fashion line.

SJP

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s two-year-old shoe-and-apparel line recently opened its first store at the new $1.2 billion MGM National Harbor casino in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just outside of  Washington, D.C. The store is run by MGM, which is licensing the brand from her, according to Hugo Gilbert, senior associate with Cushman & Wakefield in Washington, D.C. It sells a line of bags and accessories not available at the brand’s retailers, a list that includes such places as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. MGM is reportedly likely to include another SJP in Las Vegas at some point.

Wahlburgers

Spurred on in part by the popularity of their A&E reality-TV series, Mark Wahlberg and his brothers Paul and Donnie have continued the vigorous expansion of their Boston-based fast-casual burger franchise. From seven restaurants operating just a year ago,  the company has signed agreements with at least five franchise groups to launch more than 30 new restaurants in seven states: Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina. The cities include everywhere from Atlanta and Detroit to Los Angeles and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The total number of restaurants slated to be opened over the next five to seven years: about 120. Only franchisee groups able to run multiple restaurants in a territory need apply.

Tapping existing retailers

Some celebrities with their own products are choosing another approach — selling through major chains. For example, the healthy baby and beauty products business The Honest Company, co-founded in 2012 by Jessica Alba, has continued its expansion into existing stores. In March, the company announced a deal with Babies “R” Us to sell its products, which range from diapers to detergent, in the U.S. The same month, Target, which started stocking The Honest Company baby wares in 2014, introduced the company’s beauty line. Elsewhere, in February, Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty, launched in 2013 at Wal-Mart stores, debuted an e-commerce operation and also expanded to 300 Wal-Mart stores in Mexico.


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