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Atlantic Avenue just got a bit more fashionable.
Clotheshorses along the burgeoning strip gawked, and some even shopped, as the new Barneys Coop opened on Thursday — offering an upscale buffet of designers that’s less expensive than the Manhattan flagship, though not cheap by any means.
Those Naked and Famous jeans? They’ll cost $260. That Suno knit dress? It’s $735.
The hefty price tags didn’t phase the smiling shoppers emerging from the store.
“Why should we have to cross a bridge for good shopping?” asked resident Ron Weinbaum. “The more stores Brooklyn gets the better.”
Others agreed it was high-time the avenue got a little classier.
“We needed some more upper-scale shopping,” said Allison Kaufman. “For too long we’ve been treated like everybody else’s junk heap.”
And shoppers weren’t the only people excited about the high-end Manhattan retailer’s arrival in Cobble Hill.
Even the owners of small boutiques on the burgeoning “Hotlantic” said they weren’t worried about the 800-pound gorilla (with its $800 dresses) because a well-known brand name like Barneys will likely draw more style-conscious shoppers to the area.
“They are bringing a level of fashion and art to the neighborhood that a lot of people in Brooklyn can appreciate,” said Dana Caputo, a sales associate at the clothing store Eva Gartner.
Barneys Coop, which is next to Trader Joe’s just west of Court Street, will bolster small stores — instead of running them out of business, Caputo added. The store is larger than many shops in the area, but each location offers something a little different.
“It’s just going to give people more options,” she said. “We’re really excited.”
The prospect of more foot traffic also excited other mom-and-pop operations along the strip, along with Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association.
“The avenue has been evolving, and fashion is the latest change,” she said. “It’s the hot item. People seem to be opening clothing stores each time there’s a vacancy.”
The association typically supports small businesses, but Balboza said a few large chain stores can act like anchors keeping people in the area, which is beneficial for every store.
And bringing Barneys to the borough was only logical, and long over due, according to the store’s creative director.
“I don’t know why we didn’t do this before,” Simon Doonan said. “Barneys is a New York institution and we weren’t in Brooklyn.”
But not everybody was thrilled by the pricey shop.
“I’m an unlikely customer,” said resident Mary Kaplan. “I’m sure there are a few Brooklyn fashionistas, but not in my circle.”
And gentrification is always on the minds of Brooklynites, many of whom have seen the drastic changes along the once-gritty Avenue over the past 10 years.
“I’m a little worried about the small businesses along the strip,” said Anna Frantz. “A lot of the shops have been closing recently.”
But Doonan is confident that Barneys will only help the Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights areas.
“[Barneys] will have a symbiotic relationship with the other stores,” he said.
“I think you’re going to see more snappy dressers pushing their carts around Trader Joe’s.”
Barneys [194 Atlantic Ave. between Court and Clinton streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 637-2234].
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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