The Galleria in Edina just boosted its star quality. The newest retailer to open in the high-end specialty mall is Sundance, an apparel, accessories and home decor boutique founded by movie legend and director Robert Redford.
Known mostly for its catalog and website, the company had only three retail stores before the Galleria’s. It’s the company’s first new store in eight years and the first east of the Rockies.
Other stores are in Colorado, California and Utah. A store in NorthPark Center in Dallas will open in November, to be followed by five store openings next year.
“We’re very particular about where we place our stores,” Chief Executive Matey Erdos said. “We have a loyal customer base here. It feels like home to us.”
Redford bought land near Mount Timpanogos in Utah in 1969 to start the Sundance community, which specializes in recreation and the arts, including the annual Sundance Film Festival. A general store there spawned an American West-themed catalog business, which began in 1989. Redford still owns the Salt Lake City-based retailer and writes a short forward in the catalogs.
The Galleria location hints at the rugged beauty of the Utah landscape with stone pillars, reclaimed wood and tin ceilings. Posters of Redford’s movies such as “The Way We Were,” “Ordinary People,” “Jeremiah Johnson” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” hang in the dressing rooms.
The 4,000-square-foot store includes women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, jewelry, home accessories and a few furniture pieces. Women’s clothing, which makes up most of the store’s assortment, is described as relaxed femininity by Trish Robinson, vice president of product development. “Everything is designed to be worn with jeans,” she said. “It’s texture, lace and embroidery, but nothing has to be tucked in.”
Prices range from $58 to $298 for most of the women’s apparel, but many signatures pieces are from artisans around the world. “We’re conscious of supporting women and the arts and helping underprivileged women to feed their families,” Robinson said. Rugs made from vegetable dyes, reclaimed wood tables, blankets, accent pillows and jewelry are part of the artisan collection.
Most of Sundance’s apparel is made in China and India, but vendors are required to agree to comply with fair labor standards, Erdos said.
Bringing Sundance to the Galleria is another example of how many major brands have their eye on the Twin Cities, said Mary Van Note of Ginger Consulting in Minneapolis. “The merchandise has nice quality and a strong point of view for women 35 and up,” she said.
The response since the store opened in mid-September has been “phenomenal,” according to Jerry Cohen, the Galleria’s general property manager. “Customers can avoid shipping costs shopping in the store. Sales have far exceeded the goals,” he said.
For loyal customer Dianne Belski of Eagan, who shopped there on opening day, Sundance is the best store to come to the Twin Cities in a long time. “My friends ask me where I get my clothes but gradually they’ve started answering the question before I can because they know I’ll say ‘Sundance,’ ” she said.
The answer to the question that Cohen is asked most often is “no,” Redford has not put in an appearance yet. Cohen thinks the actor/director doesn’t want to detract from the opening.
“I’m somewhat confident that he will probably show up at some point,” Cohen said. That’s because Redford has a Minnesota connection. Judith Guest, the author of “Ordinary People,” lives in the Twin Cities. Redford directed the movie adaptation, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director in 1981.
The Galleria is 98 percent leased and has one vacancy, a space on the lower level formerly occupied by Brass Handle. It has the highest sales per square foot of any Twin Cities shopping center.