Jul 12th 2011 Issue
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Adagio's third store: Downtown!

Charles Cain - Jul 12th 2011

617 N. State Street, Chicago

Interior "before"

Private courtyard

Adagio's third Tea Experience Retail Store will open in mid-November at 617 North State Street in Chicago, IL. This third store completes the original intent of piloting three strategic locations: downtown, suburban street-level (Naperville) and high-end suburban mall (Old Orchard). Future expansion plans will be driven by the results at these three locations.

Finding the perfect downtown space has been something of a challenge. This is actually the third space we went to lease one. The first fell through due to bankruptcy proceedings with the company developing the property. The second we backed away from because we were not 100% sold on the strength of the location and this space seemed a better fit and financial deal.

The space itself is 1,000 square feet with fantastic 14 foot ceilings, a full basement, and large windows overlooking a private courtyard (shared by a few retailers but accessible only through the stores). Directly next door is the new sandwich shop Gramwich, by celebrity chef Graham Elliott. They opened in the fall of last year and business has been brisk. Other nearby tenants include Bloomingdales Home Store, Bang & Olufsen, a couple high end boutique stores, Starbucks, Trader Joe's and a number of high end restaurants. The space is three blocks east of Michigan Avenue, three blocks west of the famous 50's McDonalds and 4 blocks north of the River.

There are 83,000 people who live within 8 blocks of this location, not including the local workforce. There are also a host of huge tourist hotels. This space wouldn't have the traffic of Michigan Avenue, but it's also less than 25% the rents on Michigan Avenue ($400-$500 per square foot for small street-front spaces). This should give us access to that demographic while still staying appropriate to our product and price points. With 85% of the local population having a bachelors degree or higher, I'm guessing the percentage of tea connoisseurs is also much higher than the national average.

The only downside is that this is a land-marked building and our signage options are relatively limited. We'll have to be very careful to make the windows bright and colorful to attract attention.

Now that we've been open for 9 and 7 months at the first two locations respectively, I'm anxious to apply what we've learned in this third store. We have some exciting design ideas and operational improvements that I look forward to sharing in the coming days.

For now, it's a relief to finally have a signed lease and be moving forward.

Adagio Teas