By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,542)
FatFace, the British family clothier, is expecting to expand its popular chain to Exchange Street in the Old Port of Portland by early March according to an employee of the business. FatFace had hoped to open by Thanksgiving of 2015 in time for the holiday shopping season, but unexpected delays put those plans on hold until recently.
Following the issuing of an Request for Proposal a local contractor was hired to gut the interior of the former J. L. Coombs storefront on Exchange Street. That was completed and the contractor left or was released from its duties – it depends on who is speaking. Another RFP was issued and another company hired to complete the extensive ongoing renovation. About three months were lost in the
renovation process – partly because of the change in contractors and because of negotiations with the city’s Historic Preservation Office at city hall. Negotiations focused on windows in the front and back of the building and the interior flooring. FatFace wanted to replace long-time tile flooring and replace it with carpeting. But HP did not approve of that,. FatFace also wanted to remove the above window depicting Union Station on St. John Street which was razed by the city. The HP Office would not allow that to happen either.
Alice Dunn of Portland Architectural Salvage. has supplied the company with 5,000 sq. ft of reclaimed lumber – some for Portland and some for the planned Lynnfield, Massachusetts store. She has also supplied six display tables made of reclaimed lumber. “The decor is by Dunn,” said one source.
FatFace previously announced it was expanding to the US with multiple stores in the US. The first of those is the Old Port store with another store planned to open in the affulent Lynnfield, Massachusetts, referred to above, about the same time as the Portland store. An employee of the chain would not commit the company to any more planned stores in the US at this time, however. Prices are less than those of L. L. Bean, Freeport
The site was previously home to J. L. Coombs for a few years; Serendipity, a women’s’ luxury clothing store for almost 20 years; and at one time Pefecto, a restaurant with a bar downstairs for many years as well.