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How Launching a Bowery Boutique Is Like Ten Things I Hate About You

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We've asked Emily Titelman and Meredith Blank to tell us exactly what it's like to transform a onetime Bowery bar into Dagny & Barstow, a high-end women's store. Welcome to Opening Diary, an account of their adventures in retail.

Greetings Racked readers! Meredith and Emily here from Dagny & Barstow, a new boutique opening on the Bowery in the fall. As you may have read a few weeks ago, we're taking over Lenny Kravitz and Denzel Washington's old nightclub space and turning into a luxurious store, where we will stock advanced contemporary and entry price point designer clothing, handbags, jewelry, and other accessories, as well as art.

As the founders of Dagny & Barstow, we've been on this long strange journey to 264 Bowery since November 2010, when we first decided to leave the comfort of our meager salaries and tiny cubicles to embark upon our retail dreams.

For anyone out there who has ever wanted to open a boutique—or is simply fascinated by what you might find in a nightclub after it's been closed for seven years—every few weeks we'll be giving a teeny peek into what it's like to be two 26-year-old girls navigating the shark-infested waters of contractors, expeditors, showrooms, antique fairs, trade shows, and mold removal. Yup, there's lots of mold removal, so bring a pair of gloves. Never in our lives did we think we'd be so well-versed in the variety of paint scrapers and construction gloves currently available on the market today.

After reading Racked's previous post on our space, many of you might wonder why, exactly, we chose to move into a grimy, hunter green, soda-syrup–covered "den of (former) iniquity" surrounded by restaurant supply stores. While we could cite the huge bar, the crazy chandelier, or the beautiful exposed brick as some of the main reasons, there's really something unique about the space beyond its physical features. We knew the Bowery was the ideal location for our store, and looked at a plethora of other commercial spaces, including one at the Bowery Avalon, a former gallery just south of the New Museum, and even what would have been a gorgeous space at 2 Cooper. Despite the other options, which may seem to have made more sense, we couldn't be happier or more excited for EVERYTHING about 264 Bowery.

It's been a long, tough haul so far, but it's also been a lot of fun. Our favorite experience so far? Arriving at the Brimfield, MA antique fair at 4:30am, cracked out on Red Bulls and gas station coffee, trying to outrun the all-black and walkie talkie clad J. Crew and Tommy Hilfiger merchandising teams to get the best vintage trunks. If you've ever seen 10 Things I Hate About You, or any other teen movie, when the whole high school arrives en mass dragging a keg and DJ equipment into a house party?it felt a lot like that.

For the not-so-fun stuff we've luckily had help along the way (mostly from the restaurant supply guys who help us open our gate—damn you Core Fusion, aren't we supposed to have guns by now?), and the process of turning the former Kos into a shopping mecca is well on its way.

There's plenty of good stuff to come and we can't wait to share our next round of crazy finds as we tackle the basement and the Kitty Box. Lord knows what happens to shag carpeting after multiple years of Kravitz and company spilling their potent potables and then seven years of neglect..there are probably enough pathogens and carpet-borne illnesses to scare even the most seasoned Hazmat crew. But at least when we fall severely ill years later, it will have been for a good cause and maybe we can get a new disease named after us—dagnius barstowium anyone?
· Ten Gross Things About Turning Lenny Kravitz's Bar into a Boutique [Racked NY]
· Dagny & Barstow's Retro Chandelier; Vera Wang's Trunk Shows [Racked NY]

Dagny & Barstow

264 Bowery, New York NY