Four shops squeeze into Lovers Lane’s ‘miracle mile’
When 8,000 square feet of storefront became available along the busy Lovers Lane shopping corridor in University Park, a plan was set to fill it with family-owned and operated businesses — kind of a hallmark of the street.
Back in the day, the stretch of small shops and businesses on Lovers Lane between Douglas Avenue and Inwood Road was commonly called the “Miracle Mile.” Some may say it has better shopping than when the name was more commonly used for the commercial district that dates back to the 1940s.
It’s getting a few new shops:
Dallas-based fashion jewelry designer Nikki Smith opens Friday in the last of four stores carved into the bigger space repurposed for boutiques along the busy shopping corridor.
Tasc, a New Orleans family-founded men’s and women’s active apparel brand opened earlier this month.
Dallas merchant Shannon Jud opened Kat + Noelle women’s fashion boutique in February.
Dallas artist Kristi Kennimer was the first to open with her Scarlet Reagan art and home store last November.
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The street was made a destination by longtime local businesses such as Saint Bernard, Pogo’s, Nicholson-Hardie, Inwood Theater, Eatzi’s, Elements, Wolo, Kid Biz The Biz, Susan Saffron Jewelry, Linen Boutique, Paper Affair and more recently by La La Land Kind Café, Interabang Books, plus national chains Trader Joe’s, Gap, CVS, Bassett Furniture, Ulta and Chico’s.
Beauty, nail salons, tailors, dry cleaners, pet stores, veterinarians’ offices, bakeries, florists and a tire store fill out the mix on the north side of the street. It’s where people in the Park Cities and nearby neighborhoods do their errands and then some just down the street from Highland Park High School.
Sales for soft goods such as apparel and home décor “are rather high in this corridor, and we knew from the moment Tyler’s left we needed more small shop space,” Austin said.
She studied local businesses and presented options to the shopping center’s local owners, Corrigan family investments.
Why they were chosen and their backstories:
Nikki Smith is a local provider of a big trend in demand for dainty costume jewelry, Austin said.
“Nikki Smith is an amazing case study,” Austin said. “We loved that she was local and started in the Dallas Farmers Market.”
Nikki Smith moved to Texas from Minnesota out of college to work for JCPenney and left in 2016 to put her merchandise buying and analytics skills to work with her own fashion jewelry business. She started out at festivals, art fairs, and farmers markets. Smith has been making jewelry for herself for a few years and her co-workers at the Plano-Based department store started asking her to make them some too.
The Pavilion store is her second. The first one opened in the Dallas Farmers Market in 2020. She now has eight full-time and 12 part-time employees. Smith has also developed a wholesale business for her fashion jewelry, supplying 1,000 boutiques in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Smith added “permanent jewelry” to her mix a year ago and it now represents 50% of her business. Custom-fit chains are welded around a wrist, neck or ankle. The no-clasp jewelry isn’t forever. It can come off with scissors.
“The Pavilion could probably have filled the space with deeper-pocket retailers, but they were looking for local businesses that could grow in the area,” Smith said.
“I always thought this corridor could use more athleisure,” Austin said. She had worked with the New Orleans-based Tasc to find a store in Houston and knew of the premium brand’s strong wholesale business at high-end resorts.
Tasc CEO Todd Andrews, a 1996 Southern Methodist University graduate, is back in his college town with an apparel business he’s been building since 2009. He has reconnected with friends who stayed in Dallas and built careers.
Tasc is known for its innovative and proprietary fabric that uses bamboo and beechwood instead of petroleum-based products. The company has a strong partnership with a family-owned and operated manufacturing business in India and together they engineer new products, Andrews said. After a trademark issue, the company name was rebranded in 2012 from Thriv to Tasc, a word made up of family members’ initials.
The wholesale business has grown to 1,200 customers in all 50 states, and Tasc built a direct business to consumers website before opening its first store in New Orleans in 2017. Mountain Creek in the Birmingham market was next in 2020, Houston’s Rice Village last year and now University Park.
The brand has several PGA Tour golfers wearing its clothing and will be at the U.S. Open tennis tournament for the second year. For fall, it’s expanding into puffer jackets and fleece.
“We’re looking for more locations,” Andrews said. “Stores allow us to present the best visualization of our products in a shopping center with the right co-tenants and consumers living in the area.”
Kat + Noelle
Kat + Noelle was a natural fit with fashions that appeal to women living in surrounding Dallas, Highland Park, Bluffview and Devonshire, Austin said. She said she appreciated that owner Shannon Jud proposed to operate a boutique with brands that aren’t already in the market and with a wide range of prices.
Jud does all the buying with a focus on something for everyone. About 85% to 90% of the brands the store carries are women-owned and designed apparel and accessories.
The retailer carries apparel for all occasions. She stocks swimsuits and shoes. Kat + Noelle also has jewelry, home items and fragrances that can be put together for unique gifts.
The store, named for her children, “was always a dream for me,” Jud said. “After COVID, I said why not, I’m so thankful, and finding a location across from Nicholson-Hardie in this neighborhood made me really happy.”
After 20 years as a human resources executive, Jud wanted to be in the retail business. She and her husband, Tom, have owned a different business model, the resale shop Clothes Circuit in Preston Center, since 2018. That business turns 40 this year.
The Lovers Lane corridor is “a hidden gem for great home décor finds,” Austin said and she believes Kristi Kennimer’s Scarlet Reagan is “a perfect match for the street.”
Scarlet Reagan Home was the first store to open in the newly carved-up space. Kennimer, a local artist, has created a home furnishings store that sells art, including custom paintings, and provides interior design services. The store also makes custom wallpaper and fabric.
The need for more space led her store from Lakewood, she said. “I love this spot with the natural light on both sides being on the building’s corner.”
Kennimer is an oil painter and surrounds her work with home goods she picks to also inspire shoppers. She uses vibrant colors and sold her first piece in 2001.
She didn’t use her own name for the store, saying she was somewhat shy, but also because she’s building a business that she hopes will last a long time.
Kennimer started a second business to make the acrylic frames she favors and sells in her store.
“I want to set it up for the next generation,” she said. “What motivates me is to get my children in a better place. There were no trust funds in my family.”