In the latest Shop Talk column on local retail, news about a longtime luggage store's decision to shutter, Palo Alto Korean restaurant Maum's shift to an online market and the closure of the new Jeffrey boutique.
AFTER 74 YEARS, EDWARDS LUGGAGE CLOSES ... Since opening its doors to a new era of international travel at the end of World War II, Edwards Everything Travel — Edwards Luggage has weathered the ups and downs of the small business world, passing through two generations of family and becoming a recognized leader in a competitive industry — all while planting deep roots in the community. The family-owned business could not, however, survive the unexpected impacts of a global pandemic. The iconic Palo Alto business is calling it quits after 74 years and is permanently closing its doors at Stanford Shopping Center in August. "With the strength of the internet taking sales from brick-and-mortar stores, lack of foot traffic at (Stanford Shopping Center) and now COVID-19 hitting retail ... we find it necessary to close our doors and move to the next chapter of life," the family said in a statement released on June 14.
For many, the family business was much more than a retail store. The Edwards family, which includes the Levy and Reininger families, was part of the community: Their children were born and raised in the area and attended local schools; the family business supported and sponsored many local sports teams, including Little League, over the years; and the Levy and Reininger families were founding members of Temple Beth Am in Los Altos Hills. One customer described Edwards as "almost as much a part of Palo Alto as the tree by the train tracks," according to the family.
Arthur Reininger, who co-founded the store with his sister, Sophia Levy, and brother, Edward Reininger, told the Weekly in 2002 that after World War II ended, the time seemed right to transition from the army surplus-type products that Levy and her husband, Herman, were selling at their store in Monterey to higher-end luggage and travel goods for the "new traveler." In 1946, the family opened Edwards Luggage in downtown Palo Alto before relocating it to Stanford Shopping Center in 1955. — L.T.
MAUM TO REOPEN AS ONLINE MARKET ... When Maum reopens in Palo Alto later this summer, it will no longer be the intimate, communal dining concept its chefs originally conceived of. Maum will instead sell homemade pantry items, imported products from Korea and Japan, meal kits, farm boxes and baked goods made by up-and-coming local pastry chefs, according to a newsletter the restaurant sent out on Sunday evening. "Although we are saddened by what feels like a premature ending to such a memorable place, we have grown excited about the changes to come," the email states. Co-chefs Meichih and Michael Kim declined an interview at this time. The coronavirus has forced a reimagining of one of the Peninsula's most successful restaurants. Maum, which means "from the heart" in Korean, began as a high-end private dining space at 322 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto before opening to the public in 2018. Less than a year later, the Kims won their first Michelin star. Maum served modern Korean tasting menus at a 16-seat communal table, much of the fare drawing on produce grown exclusively for the restaurant at a private farm in Los Altos Hills. Maum briefly reopened for takeout in May. In July, it will return as a retail operation with pantry items, meal kits and weekly specials from the Kims. They also plan to host guest pastry chefs who will offer a rotation of pastries, cakes and breads. In the fall, they plan to launch Maum Kitchen, an online shop selling Maum pantry goods and kitchen and dining products from Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia. — E.K.
NORDSTROM SHUTTERS NEW JEFFREY BOUTIQUE Nordstrom has shut down all of its high-end Jeffrey boutiques, including the Stanford Shopping Center location that opened in August 2018 following an extensive five-month remodel of the former Polo Ralph Lauren building that faces El Camino Real. Stanford was the boutique's first and only west coast location, which Nordstrom opened as part of its expansion into the luxury market after purchasing Jeffrey and hiring its founder, Jeffrey Kalinsky, as director of designer merchandising in 2005. The decision to close its high-end stores in New York, Atlanta and Palo Alto was announced at the end of May as the department store was forced to rethink its footprint following the shutdown caused by the coronavirus. According to media reports, Kalinsky, who is credited with helping transform Manhattan's Meatpacking District into a high-end retail destination during the late 1990s and was included in Time magazine's "All-Time 100 Fashion Icons" in 2013, will retire. On Tuesday, Nordstrom announced that it would be reopening six of its department stores throughout California this week, including the Nordstrom Palo Alto store at Stanford and its Nordstrom Rack Ravenswood store in East Palo Alto. — L.T.
Compiled by the Weekly staff; this week written by Linda Taaffe and Elena Kadvany. Got leads on interesting and newsworthy retail developments? The Weekly will check them out. Email shoptalk@ paweekly.com.