Montana Avenue strongly feels retail distress

Montana Avenue which has been called a “mini Rodeo Drive” and the home to high-end boutiques has fallen victim to a combination of high rent, low patronage and retail distress due to the tough economic times.

This has spelled doom for a substantial portion of the businesses on Montana Avenue. From June 2008 to the end of April, roughly 35 businesses — representing almost 20 percent of the total merchants on Montana — will have left the shopping district, leaving empty storefronts up and down the street, the majority of which are between Seventh and 17th streets.

The kind of conspicuous consumption that used to be done at boutiques has come to a screeching halt. Department stores, which carry similar items are discounting deeply and boutiques typically don’t have the financial resources of bigger stores.

People working in many of the stores say that business has been slow for months and many shops are devoid of customers on weekends that would have been very busy a year ago.

Montana Avenue has some of the highest rents in the city, from about $6 per square feet to more than $9.

Notable store closings: Babystyle, La Partie, Saylor, KidsBiz, Starbucks, II Primo Passo, Jane Smith and Miel

(*Sources: Santa Monica Daily Press and Los Angeles Business Journal)

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