NEW YORK, United States — To get to Ivanka Trump’s store in Trump Tower, shoppers must first walk past metal barricades and police in body armour toting automatic weapons. Through the revolving doors is another checkpoint, where security employees check your bags. Then, once you’ve made it through, the now famous lobby and its golden elevators appear. In an alcove just to the side, there is a window. On it, is the first daughter’s logo.
Never was it this hard to get to the gift shop.
Ivanka Trump’s new store, while small, does show that her fashion label is doubling down on plans to reach consumers directly rather than relying on wholesale partners like Macy’s Inc. and Hudson’s Bay Co. Opening a stand-alone store may be a statement about declining mall traffic, but in this case it’s probably more about rehabilitating the brand’s image after a tumultuous year. Her business has weathered boycotts and the loss of an early retail partner, Nordstrom Inc., following the election of her father last year.
“In the ever-changing retail landscape, the Ivanka Trump brand is committed to engaging with the customers directly,” her company said in an e-mailed statement. “Today, the Ivanka Trump brand is evolving in big ways, but the mission remains the same.”
This one store aside, the brand launched an e-commerce effort this fall. Right now, the website only sells handbags and fashion jewellery, but apparel and shoes are scheduled to appear in 2018. The label licenses its name to companies including G-III Apparel Group Ltd., which makes the goods and sells them to stores. As the brand moves to reach shoppers directly, it’s also shifting toward more affordable items. Earlier this year, the business discontinued its fine jewellery line. (Ivanka Trump gave up day-to-day control of the company when she joined her father in the White House, working as an unpaid assistant).
Opening a dedicated storefront is a popular approach for brands that have typically relied on other retailers for sales. As mall traffic declines and shoppers’ preferences for e-commerce grows, branded stores allow companies to skip the middlemen and control how their products are presented.
As mall traffic declines and e-commerce grows, branded stores allow companies to skip the middlemen and control how their products are presented.
The Ivanka Trump shop inside Trump Tower will be open every day, selling handbags, fashion jewellery and gifts such as scented candles. For the holidays, it’s selling an exclusive ornament for $25, only available to those who visit the building in person.
Its lobby, a public space, has become something of a tourist attraction over the past year. Visitors come to take photos of the gilded entryway, grab a beer at the bar, or chow down on a taco bowl at the grill. Downstairs, they buy Trump shirts, hoodies, and fidget spinners — or red, white and blue merchandise from the Trump-Pence shop.
This particular edifice is one of the most secure buildings in New York. It costs about $149,000 a day to protect it when Trump isn’t in town, according to a letter New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill sent to Congress last year. That number spikes to $308,000 per day when the president returns. The annual security cost is estimated at around $58 million. It can be a hassle for visitors at times, due to heavy security, hurting the businesses inside. Sales at the Tiffany Inc.’s flagship store on the ground floor plunged following the election, though the company said foot traffic has finally returned to “a relatively normal flow.”
On Thursday morning, as workers scrambled to finish the fixtures inside the new Trump store, a trickle of tourists came through the revolving doors. Some stopped to peek at the Trump Grill and its two-story waterfall, while others wandered upstairs to get a coffee at Starbucks. Ivanka Trump employees came downstairs to see the store’s progress, including Abigail Klem, the brand’s chief executive, who took over after Ivanka Trump went to Washington. Trump hasn’t divested from her businesses, though she said she has transferred assets to a trust.
While the staff supervised final touches on the store and stocked its tall shelves before opening in the afternoon, Ivanka Trump was attending an event in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, at which her father touted his effort to slash government regulations, and tweeted about the need for tax reform.
By Kim Bhasin and Lindsey Rupp; editor: David Rovella.