Joan Shepp's next move: Shops at Liberty Place

Joan Shepp, the owner of Joan Shepp women's clothing store, takes a moment to straighten up the spring shoe display as she walks through her store thursday afternoon. (Michael Bryant / Inquirer)
Joan Shepp, the owner of Joan Shepp women's clothing store, takes a moment to straighten up the spring shoe display as she walks through her store thursday afternoon. (Michael Bryant / Inquirer) (INQ BRYANT)
Posted: September 25, 2013

After 13 years at 1616 Walnut St., Philadelphia retailer Joan Shepp is moving her boutique to the first floor of the Shops at Liberty Place - temporarily.

"We are moving to Liberty Place as a pop-up store," Shepp told The Inquirer on Monday, soon after signing the three-month lease at the Shops. "We will be there through Christmas, and then we will figure out what our next move is."

Shepp and her daughter, Ellen, have been trying to figure out their fashion fate since they received notice more than a year ago that their rent would triple. Other independent boutiques also have been forced to leave Walnut as national retailers take up residence along the prime real estate corridor between Broad Street and 20th Street. For example, Mall staple Theory will move into the space next to Joan Shepp's current spot next year, but it's unclear what will replace her boutique.

Shepp will join Knit Wit and Boyds, other local high-end retailers that are setting up shop on Chestnut Street.

It's been a particularly tough patch for Shepp these last three months, as she was compelled to scout out a new location during fashion's busiest season. Shepp would traditionally be in Europe shopping the spring collections and stocking her store with new fashions. This also is the time when retailers ready their racks for the holidays. Sales now are key to a booming fourth quarter.

Instead, Shepp had to delay displaying the latest wares, even closing the store the first week in July to get a jump-start on packing. During that time, several lease deals fell through.

"The deals just weren't right," Shepp said.

ewellington@phillynews.com 215-854-2704

@ewellingtonphl

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