On an overcast Thursday in early September, in true-to-Alaska-shopper form, more than 500 people waited in line for the grand opening of Anchorage’s Nordstrom Rack. We love a new store like we love a good PFD sale or Black Friday deal.
A few blocks away that same morning, The Park, a locally owned women’s luxury boutique, opened for the first time. And despite zero grand-opening hoopla and only a bit of social media promotion, it’s no surprise the store was stocked with a steady stream of shoppers all morning, and just a few days later owner Nanette Park was quickly restocking her racks to keep up with demand.
The boutique occupies a simple-but-elegant space tucked in back of the Northern Lights Village shopping center at the west end of Northern Lights Boulevard. Inside, crisp white walls, a polished cement floor and a few gold-and-glass fixtures bounce light around. A brilliant, behemoth crystal chandelier challenges the otherwise minimal décor.
A single, eye-level rack running along the west wall accounts for the majority of The Park’s offerings, primarily signature-like basics such as soft cashmere sweaters in playful shapes and solid colors, classic shift-dress silhouettes modernized with textures like suede or sequins, and designer-quality denim in a range of neutral hues.
Patterns and prints pop up occasionally, but these selections walk a fine line between wardrobe building block and attention-snatching statement piece depending on what you might wear it with. Even the jewelry maintains this minimal style for maximum effect.
“My store is not really about volume,” owner Nanette Park told me when we chatted about her new venture last week. “It’s about finding these key pieces you want to wear, you reach for all the time in your closet.”
She’s right. I splurged on a gray swing-cut, cowl-neck Vince cashmere sweater, and it’s almost too easy to pair and wear. I might as well keep a calendar and count the days in between just to give it a proper rest.
While this luxury does often come with a price tag, the offerings are carefully calculated and Park’s vision is precise.
She’s clear on what she’s offering and whom she’s offering it to: A curated women’s luxury boutique – for the eternal sophisticate, she says. Park admits that her typical shopper is someone who can afford to invest in many of the pieces she carries, but she’s left room on her racks for accessibility (read: not everything breaks the $100 barrier).
“It could be someone newly into wanting a sophisticated look,” she said of her customers, “but pieces that you can wear day to day.”
The whole experience is designed to be comfortable: “I want the store to be like I’m helping them in my closet or their closet,” Park said. “The whole point is I can pull pieces to put together, and I can show them how to mix it with other pieces.” (She also offers tutorials on wrapping up in her extra-large Donnie Charm scarves – I needed the tutorial. Twice.)
And she’s focusing on fundamentals by bringing in high-quality wardrobe basics: “An essential can be very substantial,” she said. “But they should feel and be cut like a million bucks. It makes me want to get some killer pieces for people to try and see.”