By Craig Patterson
TV series ‘Sex and the City’ actress Sarah Jessica Parker attended the grand opening of her first standalone retail location in Canada at West Edmonton Mall over the weekend. Hundreds were in attendance. The new retail space features an expansive selection of the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear line which Ms. Parker co-founded in 2014.
The new store spans nearly 2,500 square feet on the mall’s main level and replaces a Town Shoes location at the corner of the mall’s BRBN st wing, (a new Orleans-themed stretch formerly called ‘Bourbon Street’). The SJP store’s interior features beige walls and wood accents, as well as glass and metal display cases housing the brand’s colourful assortment of high-heeled shoe styles. The brightly lit space features comfortable plush pink velvet chairs as well as imagery of Ms. Parker herself.
The store also carries the signature black dress designed by Sarah Jessica Parker, which retails for $395.
Sarah Jessica Parker and George Malkemus III founded the SJP by Jessica Parker footwear line in February of 2014 when the brand launched exclusively at Nordstrom. The colourful shoes are typically priced between $400 and $700 per pair and are hand made in Italy. Until recently, George Malkemus III was also president of designer footwear Manolo Blahnik USA — the footwear brand was a favourite of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw on the ‘Sex and the City’ TV series. Mr. Malkemus left the post in April of this year after 37 years with Manolo Blahnik USA.
Retail Insider Edmonton correspondent Kyle Rempfer sat down with Sarah Jessica Parker to discuss the new Edmonton store. Ms. Parker explained how the brand began.
“Towards the end of the run of the Sex and the City television series, I was approached about starting a shoe line. I wasn’t confident that I had the skills or the background. I asked George (Malkemus III) about forming a partnership. He was very excited and open,” she said.
Both Ms. Parker and Mr. Malkemus arrived in New York City in 1977, she went on to explain. Both are fans of the single-sole shoe and aimed to create footwear designs that would be hand-made in Italy at a reasonable price-point.
“Eight months ago, Triple Five (owners of West Edmonton Mall) came to us about a partnership that would include opening stores in its malls. I wasn’t familiar with West Edmonton Mall but George was.” That partnership led to the planned opening of a second SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker’s location at the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis, which is owned by the same landlord.
While Ms. Parker doesn’t have one favourite shoe style, she says that she is “seduced by each one.” Both she and Mr. Malkemus design the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker shoe styles.
When asked about opening more store locations, Ms. Parker said, “We don’t have a goal as to the number of stores that we would open. We don’t want to grow too quickly. Rather, you take care of what you have. I think the brand has grown because of the customer service in our stores”.
The SJP brand has since gained wholesale distribution at retailers globally and most recently, SJP has gone direct-to-consumer by opening seven and, soon, eight standalone store locations. In North America, SJP has two stores in New York City that include one permanent store in the Seaport District, and another a pop-up at 6 W. 52nd Street near Saks Fifth Avenue and the Rockefeller Center. Other US stores include a unit at the Bellagio Hotel retail complex in Las Vegas, as well as a storefront at the MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino in suburban Washington DC (which was the brand’s first location in 2016). SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker also operates two stores in the Middle East — one at the Dubai Mall in Dubai, with the second being in The Galleria in Abu Dhabi.
Most recently, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker announced that it would be opening a 1,300 square foot store at the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis, It will be the eighth location for the brand.
On Saturday hundreds of excited fans waited in anticipation to meet Sarah Jessica Parker at the store opening. Ms. Parker remained on site for several hours to meet customers and to sign purchases. The appearance coincided with West Edmonton Mall’s Fashion Event on the same day, which was held at the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace located at the centre of the massive shopping centre.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: firstname.lastname@example.org