Henderson Avenue attracting retailers new to city

July 03, 2015

Henderson Avenue continues to attract up-and-coming national retailers.

The 1-mile street, known mostly as a row for restaurants and bars and as the bohemian side of Knox-Henderson, is also becoming a preferred spot for retailers landing in Dallas with their first stores.

Last summer, it was online retailers Warby Parker and Bonobos. This month, the East Dallas street adds Knot Standard, a New York-based men’s custom suit maker; Planet Blue, a Santa Monica-based beach apparel boutique; and Kit and Ace, a Canadian his-and-hers apparel shop with Lululemon family ties.

The stretch of eclectic shops starting at North Central Expressway down to Ross Avenue “is five minutes from so many neighborhoods of Dallas,” said Mark Masinter, managing member of Dallas-based Open Realty Advisors.

“It’s a bull’s-eye. It’s a bridge between East Dallas and the Park Cities. You can get there from Lakewood, Highland Park, Uptown, SMU, anywhere in five minutes,” Masinter said.

His company has been buying up property along Henderson for the last 2 1/2 years and now owns 40 buildings and lots. Masinter’s firm owns enough of the street to control the merchandise mix of stores.

“I’m trying to create a community,” he said. That’s why he added a yoga studio and recently closed an unruly bar.

Masinter says he’s inspired by places like Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Calif., Elizabeth Street in Brooklyn, King Street in Charleston, S.C., and 23rd Street in Portland, Ore.

“We’ve done deals on all those streets, and we’re taking what we’ve learned there and bringing it to the city we love and live in and doing it in a thoughtful way,” Masinter said.

He will share some of his plans for the street with the city of Dallas next week.

Those ideas, he promises, lean into Henderson’s eclectic side.

Masinter has been talking with the neighborhood and believes the street is ready for some improvements, including lighting and new sidewalks. The bar scene is as big as it’s going to get, he said. As tenants, he said, he prefers the bars that have restaurants and store hours.

Here are the three newest apparel shops:

Kit and Ace
1802 McMillan Ave.
Opens July 16

Kit and Ace was founded by J.J. and Shannon Wilson, the son and wife of Lululemon founder and former CEO Chip Wilson. The boutique sells contemporary apparel that it designs and makes from proprietary fabrics. The company plans to open 50 stores by the end of this year. It opened its first store last year in Vancouver, Canada, where it’s based.

J.J. Wilson said the fabric is a lightweight blend of cashmere that cools in the summer and warms in the winter. “Our clothes are not made to sweat in, but to wear for a full-contact lifestyle,” which he describes as someone who is active and moving from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Kit and Ace founders shun a cookie-cutter store model and said they prefer to adapt stores to existing space and showcase local artists.

The Dallas store will have a gallery-style exhibition of local photographers. Stores all have a “supper table” where local chefs are invited to cook dinner once a month for invited customers.

Planet Blue
3010 N. Henderson Ave.
Opened July 2

Planet Blue is a 20-year-old chain that opened its first store in Malibu and spent the last couple of decades adding stores slowly and refining its mix of private label and national clothing brands. Dallas is its eighth store, and five more are planned this year. An investment from Breakwater Capital in 2013 is allowing the chain to expand to 50 stores in five years, said David Lindell, vice president of retail for the Santa Monica-based retailer.

Planet Blue describes its fashions as a collection of brands that take women from the beach to the street. Its mix includes intimates and loungewear.

Dallas landed on the expansion list because Texans are already big customers, Lindell said. “We see the Dallas customer in our California stores and online daily.”

The 3,200-square-foot store is in part of the space that was recently vacated by the Trunk Club, which bought its own building in Deep Ellum to accommodate its headquarters move from Chicago.

Knot Standard
1902 Henderson Ave.
Opened June 23

Knot Standard has been in Dallas the last year and a half in temporary space in Highland Park Village, said Lakan Foster, Dallas store manager. The 800-square-foot shop has samples but no inventory to sell.

Similar to Bonobos across the street, the shop is by appointment. But instead of sizes, Knot Standard’s tailors take 25 measurements.

That information is fed into software that converts the data into a 3-D pattern for the customer.

Suits start at $795 and are made in Hong Kong and Portugal, depending on the fabric selection.

“We picked Henderson because we wanted to be around where young professionals are,” Foster said. “We like the vibe on Henderson.”