Heights Mercantile, the 40,000-square-foot low-rise urban district located on the site of a former Pappas Restaurants warehouse at the intersection of Yale Street and 7th, aims to be a new kind of shopping and dining destination when it opens this summer.
Towards that end, developer (and brothers-in-law) Steve Radom and Evan Katz have secured leases with three acclaimed retailers that are making their Houston debuts: Saint Lo Boutique, The Gypsy Wagon, and Marine Layer. Together, they represent the sort of tenants the project hopes to attract: first-to-market, slightly unusual businesses that will appeal to The Heights' independent spirit.
Of the three, San Francisco-based Marine Layer has the highest profile nationally. The company has earned acclaim for manufacturing its products in California and its extremely soft, natural fibers. What began as a company selling T-shirts made with recycled Beachwood and proprietary fabrics out of a VW bus has now grown to a 23-store mini empire and a full line of knitwear, women’s clothes, and accessories. The Heights location, which will be located in the old Pappas building that dates back to 1940, will be the company’s second store in Texas.
“In the retail world, they’re a big deal, because their stores are beautifully built out. They like to find older spaces with character,” Radom says. “To have them pick The Heights when they were wined and dined by other places, shows what this project can accomplish.”
Saint Lo Boutique owners Lindsay and Skye Vila are Houston residents who are making their jump to retailing after successful careers in fashion photography (Lindsay) and finance (Skye). They spent two years searching for the right location before committing to Heights Mercantile. Skye tells CultureMap that the couple believe in “dressing well and shopping local,” and that ethos guides their selections for the store.
“This is the perfect spot for us. We have looked over Houston twice, and could not imagine Saint Lo’s flagship boutique anywhere else,” Skye Vila says. “We believe that Heights Mercantile is curated in such a way that Houstonians from across the city will find themselves frequenting the area.”
While Saint Lo hails from Houston, The Gypsy Wagon comes from Dallas. Founded by Carley Seale, The Gypsy Wagon presents itself as a modern day general store that sells handmade jewelry, whimsical kids clothing, apothecary, stationary, and hard to find vintage furniture. In addition to its hometown, the store has outposts in Austin and Crested Butte, Colorado.
“The Gypsy Wagon caters to the footloose and fancy free,” representative Johnny Seale writes in an email. “Our owner Carley Seale handpicks each and every gift and home item for the stores. For our clothing department, we use the word ‘boho’ not as a reference to a trend, but as a state of mind. It exemplifies a nomadic spirit and true love for nature, a girl with a song in her heart.”
“(Seale) was planning on focusing on Dallas and more traditional fashion markets. When she saw the project and the architecture, she was drawn to it,” Radom adds. “It’s a big win, because she’s an awesome merchant. She’s going to provide a fun vibe that’s consistent with the project.”
Construction on the site is ongoing. Radom expects the stores and three restaurants — a permanent home for Melange Creperie, a reported fifth location of popular sandwich shop Local Foods, and a rumored second location of acclaimed ice cream parlor Cloud 10 Creamery — are all slated to open this summer.