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Retail startups like Allbirds, Everlane, and more are flocking to one of NYC’s trendiest neighborhoods to open stores — here’s how big the trend has become

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  • Allbirds recently opened its first flagship store in SoHo.
  • It’s the most recent of many e-commerce startups to open up in that neighborhood, including popular retail startups like Everlane and Casper.
  • According to Nicole LaRusso, Director of Research & Analysis for CBRE Tri-State, there are a few reasons that brands keep choosing this neighborhood, from attracting the customers that they’re targeting to the dropping rent prices.
  • We went to SoHo to see how prevalent this trend was for ourselves.

Allbirds, once an online-only shoe retailer known for making “the world’s most comfortable shoe,” just opened up its first permanent flagship store in NYC.

It isn’t the only store to do so. In the past year, it seems like more and more online-only stores have been opening up in downtown Manhattan. Retail startups like Everlane, Allbirds, Casper, and others which started as e-commerce only brands have been opening up their first physical retail stores in SoHo and the surrounding neighborhoods like NoHo and Nolita.

“Being in the SoHo neighborhood makes our brand experience accessible to New Yorkers, and also to visitors from around the country and the world,” Allbirds told Business Insider. “Our first SoHo store was a concept store — it was meant as a learning opportunity for us and a way to interact with customers in our largest market.”

The neighborhood tends to draw a lot of startups that are willing to invest more in their physical stores, according to Nicole LaRusso, Director of Research & Analysis for CBRE Tri-State. She explained to Business Insider that SoHo attracts sophisticated and thoughtful millennials that these brands are targeting. What’s more, the varied mix of brands in the area keeps the shopping experience interesting for customers.

This wasn’t always the case. Between 2010-2014, there were countless empty storefronts in SoHo. Rents were high, and shoppers were starting to shift towards online shopping instead of shopping in physical stores.

According to data CBRE shared with Business Insider, rents began to drop in early 2016, and e-commerce startups began filling the spaces either permanently or as pop-ups. In some cases, like with Everlane, stores will start out as a pop up shop, and if the shop is successful, the brand will move in permanently.

We recently went shopping in SoHo, and saw how prevalent this trend was for ourselves:

To track rents and study real estate trends in different parts of NYC, CBRE divides the city into neighborhoods, and then divides each neighborhood into different corridors.


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To track rents and study real estate trends in different parts of NYC, CBRE divides the city into neighborhoods, and then divides each neighborhood into different corridors.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

In SoHo, there are three main corridors CBRE looks at: Prince Street…


In SoHo, there are three main corridors CBRE looks at: Prince Street...play

In SoHo, there are three main corridors CBRE looks at: Prince Street…

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

…Spring Street…


...Spring Street...play

…Spring Street…

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

…and Broadway.


...and Broadway.play

…and Broadway.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

Though those are the main corridors where CBRE tracks rents, Director of Research & Analysis Nicole LaRusso told Business Insider that there are other important areas for retail, like Wooster Street. There were quite a few retail spaces for lease on that block.


Though those are the main corridors where CBRE tracks rents, Director of Research & Analysis Nicole LaRusso told Business Insider that there are other important areas for retail, like Wooster Street. There were quite a few retail spaces for lease on that block.play

Though those are the main corridors where CBRE tracks rents, Director of Research & Analysis Nicole LaRusso told Business Insider that there are other important areas for retail, like Wooster Street. There were quite a few retail spaces for lease on that block.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

SoHo has a pretty big range of stores, including fast fashion retailers like H&M, more high-end stores like Burberry, and a growing number of startups.


SoHo has a pretty big range of stores, including fast fashion retailers like H&M, more high-end stores like Burberry, and a growing number of startups.play

SoHo has a pretty big range of stores, including fast fashion retailers like H&M, more high-end stores like Burberry, and a growing number of startups.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

A lot of the startups opening in the area spill over to nearby neighborhoods like NoHo and Nolita, like Casper and Everlane.


A lot of the startups opening in the area spill over to nearby neighborhoods like NoHo and Nolita, like Casper and Everlane.play

A lot of the startups opening in the area spill over to nearby neighborhoods like NoHo and Nolita, like Casper and Everlane.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

Everlane, which opened its first physical store in January, first opened as a pop-up shop before opening its permanent shop at 28 Prince Street.


Everlane, which opened its first physical store in January, first opened as a pop-up shop before opening its permanent shop at 28 Prince Street.play

Everlane, which opened its first physical store in January, first opened as a pop-up shop before opening its permanent shop at 28 Prince Street.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

Allbirds is another example of a retailer that started exclusively online, opened a temporary storefront in SoHo shortly after, and eventually opened a permanent flagship store on Spring Street.


Allbirds is another example of a retailer that started exclusively online, opened a temporary storefront in SoHo shortly after, and eventually opened a permanent flagship store on Spring Street.play

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Allbirds is another example of a retailer that started exclusively online, opened a temporary storefront in SoHo shortly after, and eventually opened a permanent flagship store on Spring Street.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

Being in the SoHo neighborhood makes our brand experience accessible to New Yorkers, and also to visitors from around the country and the world,” Allbirds told Business Insider. “Our first SoHo store was a concept store —it was meant as a learning opportunity for us and a way to interact with customers in our largest market.”


Being in the SoHo neighborhood makes our brand experience accessible to New Yorkers, and also to visitors from around the country and the world," Allbirds told Business Insider. "Our first SoHo store was a concept store —it was meant as a learning opportunity for us and a way to interact with customers in our largest market."play

Being in the SoHo neighborhood makes our brand experience accessible to New Yorkers, and also to visitors from around the country and the world,” Allbirds told Business Insider. “Our first SoHo store was a concept store —it was meant as a learning opportunity for us and a way to interact with customers in our largest market.”

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

A big reason that so many retail startups are opening up shop in SoHo is the amount of open store fronts and low rent prices. There were “space for rent” spots on almost every block.


A big reason that so many retail startups are opening up shop in SoHo is the amount of open store fronts and low rent prices. There were "space for rent" spots on almost every block.play

A big reason that so many retail startups are opening up shop in SoHo is the amount of open store fronts and low rent prices. There were “space for rent” spots on almost every block.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

According to data from CBRE, rents having been dropping consistently in the area since early 2016, making it more affordable for smaller brands.


According to data from CBRE, rents having been dropping consistently in the area since early 2016, making it more affordable for smaller brands.play

According to data from CBRE, rents having been dropping consistently in the area since early 2016, making it more affordable for smaller brands.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

LaRusso also explained that SoHo tends to attract the sophisticated and thoughtful millennials that many of these startups are targeting. There’s a range of customers that come to the area because of the range of types of stores, from fast fashion retailers to more high-end boutiques.


LaRusso also explained that SoHo tends to attract the sophisticated and thoughtful millennials that many of these startups are targeting. There's a range of customers that come to the area because of the range of types of stores, from fast fashion retailers to more high-end boutiques.play

LaRusso also explained that SoHo tends to attract the sophisticated and thoughtful millennials that many of these startups are targeting. There’s a range of customers that come to the area because of the range of types of stores, from fast fashion retailers to more high-end boutiques.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

There are still a lot of vacancies in the area…


There are still a lot of vacancies in the area...play

There are still a lot of vacancies in the area…

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

…but it’s filling up fast. CBRE data shows that SoHo has eight e-commerce startups that have opened up storefronts, Nolita has four, and NoHo has one. But some of the stores might close after the holidays, LaRusso said.


...but it's filling up fast. CBRE data shows that SoHo has eight e-commerce startups that have opened up storefronts, Nolita has four, and NoHo has one. But some of the stores might close after the holidays, LaRusso said.play

…but it’s filling up fast. CBRE data shows that SoHo has eight e-commerce startups that have opened up storefronts, Nolita has four, and NoHo has one. But some of the stores might close after the holidays, LaRusso said.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

While its uncertain whether this trend will continue in SoHo, CBRE explained to Business Insider that other neighborhoods like the Flatiron district and Union Square may start seeing something similar.


While its uncertain whether this trend will continue in SoHo, CBRE explained to Business Insider that other neighborhoods like the Flatiron district and Union Square may start seeing something similar.play

While its uncertain whether this trend will continue in SoHo, CBRE explained to Business Insider that other neighborhoods like the Flatiron district and Union Square may start seeing something similar.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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