Bye-bye, Banana Republic

Barbara Diamond

Banana Republic will slip out of town in October.

The 5,000-square-foot space in Landmark Plaza now occupied by the

giant retailer will be available in October, according to the Grubb &

Ellis office in Newport Beach.

No additional information was available from the San Francisco

headquarters of Gap Inc., the parent company of Banana Republic.

"We don't comment on individual store closings or the reasons for

a closing," said company spokeswoman Jordan Benjamin. "The decision

to close a store is always a difficult one."

Banana Republic fought Laguna's aversion to mass marketing to open

a store in here. Company representatives sought, and got, approval

from higher-ups to add the words Laguna Beach to its sign, a

condition set by the Planning Commission -- and a major concession by

the giant retailer.

The women-only store was approved in March 1999.

Banana Republic opened a men's and women's store a little more

than 18 months ago in Crystal Cove Promenade, carrying the same

merchandise in its women's department as the Laguna Beach store.

Since then speculation had been rife that the Laguna store was

doomed, although employees as recently as July said they had only

heard the rumors, but nothing from the company.

The Grubb & Ellis sign on the building made it official.

OVERBOARD

Meantime, down the avenue, the deal is off to replace On Board

Clothes for Women with LF Stores, a California-based chain.

The Planning Commission voted 4 to 1 at the Aug. 11 meeting to

veto the project.

"When I saw the example of the merchandise in the proposal, I

thought, 'uh oh,'" Commissioner Anne Johnson said. "It would have

duplicated merchandise available in other stores Downtown. There was

just no way we could justify an approval."

The application to modify On Board's 12-year-old conditional

use-permit to allow LF Stores to move into the retail space at 278

Forest Ave. stated that LF Stores are associated with LF Sportswear,

a clothing manufacturing business. Stores stock the company

merchandise, accessories and a selection of European clothes.

"Each LF Boutique offers clothing and accessories that relate to

the specific trends and needs of the community in which it is

located," the application read.

Although five other LF stores are in California, the proposed

store on Forest Avenue would be the only one in Orange County

according to the application.

"On Board's owner told us he has to sell the store so he can keep

a closer eye on his other store in Florida, which is an example of

the difficulty in operating businesses in separate places and another

reason for us to support stores that are unique to Laguna," Johnson

said.

The 10-day appeal period to the City Council ended at 5 p.m.,

Wednesday.

TEAK TIME

Summer sun and salt air can wreck havoc with teak furniture.

Robert Rea (pronounced Ray) will repair the damage. Rea recently

opened Tip Top Teak in North Laguna.

"I clean the wood and bleach it to return it to its natural color

and then oil seal it," Rea said. "The oil seal sinks into the wood

and dries to protect it, which takes about four hours."

Although he specializes in outdoor furniture, Rea has also done

interiors, including a whole house in South Laguna. A table and four

chairs would cost about $200, he said.

For more information, call (949) 494-2506, ext. 16.

* DOING BUSINESS is a periodic feature of the Laguna Beach

Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Mail to Barbara Diamond,

P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; fax to 494-8979; hand-deliver to

384 Forest Ave., Suite 22; or call (949) 494-4321.

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