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VOL. 127 | NO. 179 | Thursday, September 13, 2012

Free People to Open in Saddle Creek

By Sarah Baker

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Free People, a high-end women’s retailer of apparel and other items, will open at The Shops of Saddle Creek in Germantown on Friday, Sept. 14.

The Philadelphia-based retailer fills part of the space formerly occupied by Gap, in between the new Brighton Collectibles and Anthropologie. The location marks Free People’s second boutique in Tennessee, after a location in Nashville.

The 2,000-square-foot space will feature a “Blacksmith Cottage” concept with a colorful storefront and interior rustic finishes, the brand’s second store with this design and the first of its kind in the U.S.

Materials like reclaimed beadboard and exposed stud wall are used throughout the space, mocking an old workshop feel, while a skylight exposes natural sunlight. 

The arrival of Free People in Saddle Creek is another boon for the upscale shopping center, which has landed Kate Spade and Antropologie in recent years.

“There’s been a lot of leasing activity,” said Kenneth Taylor, general manager of The Shops of Saddle Creek. “We’re very excited to have a lot of the new tenants.”

The 148,000-square-foot center – leased and managed by Fort Worth, Texas-based Trademark Property Co. – is also home to specialty retailers such as Apple, Coach, Banana Republic, Chico’s, Ann Taylor and J Crew. Open since 1987, Saddle Creek is widely regarded to be the first lifestyle center developed in the country.

“They’ve got some new blood in at Saddle Creek,” said Danny Buring, partner with The Shopping Center Group LLC. “Those guys have some incredible connections and relationships and they’re able to make a pitch where they really can compare a Memphis to a Birmingham or an Atlanta suburb or a Dallas suburb or St. Louis.”

Buring said the higher-end retail market was frozen for a couple of years and “it’s starting to thaw out.”

“As (retailers) do the third store in Dallas and the fourth store in Atlanta, they’re really starting to pay attention to some of these really affluent suburbs in the middle-tier markets,” he said.

Free People and Antropologie are owned by Urban Outfitters Inc., which opened in the gateway to Cooper-Young in Midtown last year.

While the Free People brand is sold in more than 1,500 specialty boutiques and department stores around the world, this will only be the company's 74th store. It’s demographic is the “curious young woman,” offering trendy clothing, accessories and housewares.

The new store is at 7615 W. Farmington Blvd. Store hours will be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 5:30 p.m.

The first 50 customers to arrive on opening day will be entered to win a $100 Free People gift card, and refreshments will be served from Muddy’s Bake Shop from 10 a.m. until noon.

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