Fashion / Shopping

Houston’s New Shopping Reality — Crowds Are Not Returning to The Galleria; Boutique Stores Keep it Personal

A Surprisingly Empty Mall World?

BY // 05.19.20

With stores across Texas and most of the country closed from the coronavirus pandemic restrictions onset until May 1, one might imagine that the populace would be raring to get back into face-to-face shopping mode. But shop ’til you drop just might be a thing of the past. As a quick survey of a few spots around Houston reveals, things are not as they once were.

A brief visit to  The Galleria Tuesday morning revealed a surprisingly empty world. Many of the stores were open. Many were closed. Shoppers were few and far between.

Saks Fifth Avenue anchoring the western end of the mall was open for business with crazy sales of 60 and 30 percent off. Neiman Marcus, having recently declared bankruptcy, at the eastern, original end of the Simon mall looked closed. (Neiman Marcus is allowing appointment-only shopping — book here).

It appears that shoppers remain timid about venturing into vast spaces where crowds might gather. But that certainly is not a problem in The Galleria, at least not on weekdays.

Adidas is closed, but Akris is open during the newly set mall hours of 11 to 7.  Burberry and Bulgari, along with Zegna, Fendi, Nordstrom, and Gucci, are welcoming shoppers, while Ralph Lauren, Jo Malone, and Sephora are closed.

It’s a changing roster daily, and The Galleria has made it easy to learn if the store you’re interested in is open, open for delivery only, or closed. This link is updated daily.

In River Oaks District — which appears to be hopping most of the time, thanks to the appeal of restaurants such as Steak 48, Le Colonial, Bisou, and Toulouse — most of the stores that are open are appointment only, and others are open for curbside pickup only.

Hermès, for example, is open Tuesdays through Fridays, but only for phone sales and curbside service, while Intermix is open Mondays through Sundays, noon to 6 pm. Saint Bernard, Stella McCartney, and Vince are open for business. Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels are open by appointment only.

The River Oaks District roster of store hours can be found here.  However, not all stores are included. Brunello Cucinelli, COS, and Etro opened on Monday though at the time of this article, they were not listed on the posted roster.

Boutique Business

Cotton Club Collection
Cotton Club Collection on the edge of River Oaks is open for business as usual though appointments are recommended.

Across town, smaller boutiques are welcoming visitors. Jennifer Cunningham reopened Cotton Club Collection as soon as Governor Greg Abbot first allowed stores to welcome a 25 percent customer load, though appointments are recommended for ease of shopping. The shop on San Felipe is open Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm, offering the chic womenswear in special labels and fine jewelry that have put this boutique on the must-visit map.

Another local boutique, Collectivo, has opened its new store in an adorable cottage on Yale next to Heights Mercantile, after having closed its Midlane location at the end of the year. It has been a challenge, according to owner Geraldine Boyer, as getting permits to open in the 100-year-0ld protected structure was an unexpected protracted experience. But she is open for business, proffering Latin American designs that you won’t find elsewhere.

Tootsies, which had Fady Armanious running daily Zoom shopping parties during the mandated store closures, is now open from 11 am to 5 pm daily while continuing with curbside pickup and delivery. Tootsies has also added virtual shopping experiences.

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