Baltic Watches, a French brand renowned for its vintage-inspired watches, had its sights set on expanding from Paris to SoHo, New York’s chic heart of art, fashion, and impeccable style. But their transatlantic real estate journey to an NYC showroom space wouldn’t be a walk in the park (or Jardin du Luxembourg).
We at Metro Manhattan were happy to help them lock down a place that not only met distinctive aesthetic requirements but also had favorable terms. This case study is no ordinary one. It’s a story of strategic finesse, cultural bridges built across the Atlantic, and a new showroom that would make any watchmaker proud.
Baltic Watches, known for its vintage-inspired designs, already boasts impressive showrooms in Paris and London, reflecting the brand’s unique blend of classic aesthetics and modern craftsmanship. But when they reached out to us in September 2023, it was clear that expanding to New York’s SoHo caught their attention not just to replicate this success but to infuse it with the distinct character of this new location.
The expectations were high regarding SoHo, a neighborhood synonymous with fashion and art. The new showroom had to mirror the brand’s identity while embracing the local vibe. This mission meant finding a space that was not just a store but a destination – a physical embodiment of the Baltic Watches brand identity.
SoHo, renowned for its loft spaces and artistic heritage, has a price tag to match its prestige. The search for the perfect showroom meant searching a market where premium costs are the norm, significantly higher than in similar, former industrial areas like Chelsea or Flatiron.
The costs aligned more with Baltic Watches’ initial budget in these surrounding neighborhoods. However, the appeal of SoHo, with its unique blend of history, culture, and fashion, was irresistible. The challenge lay in balancing the desire for a SoHo location with budgetary realities, which demanded creativity and market savvy.
The heart of Baltic Watches’ requirement was a space that resonated with their brand’s character – a space as timeless and well-crafted as their watches. The showroom space needed to be architecturally intriguing, reminiscent of their showroom in Paris. These spaces have high vaulted ceilings, abundant natural light, and inviting outdoor areas – features that don’t just display watches but tell a story.
Finding such a space in SoHo, known for its unique architectural styles and high costs, was like searching for a needle in a haystack. The goal was clear: to find a space that could house their products and reflect the brand’s commitment to elegance and quality. The showroom had to be more than just a place to browse; it needed to be a haven for watch enthusiasts, where the beauty of Baltic Watches could genuinely shine.
When we started the showroom search, it quickly became evident that finding the ideal space was not just about square footage; it was a pursuit of a space that resonated with the brand’s ethos in the face of challenges and particular needs.
The search process began with a critical challenge: aligning Baltic Watches’ budget with the premium costs of SoHo’s coveted loft spaces. It meant a strategic balancing act – finding a location that captured the essence of SoHo while staying financially viable. We explored numerous potential spaces; each evaluated not only on cost but also how well it matched Baltic Watches’ vision. The search involved a meticulous comparison with neighborhoods like Chelsea and Flatiron, known for their slightly more affordable industrial style loft spaces but lacking the unique SoHo vibe.
Beyond the budget, the showroom had to meet specific functional requirements. Baltic Watches envisioned a space with activity, accommodating regular visits from buyers and watch enthusiasts. That’s why the search necessitated finding a landlord who understood and welcomed the idea of a showroom doubling as a dynamic, visitor-friendly space. The challenge was to find a location where a limited number of guests would work well with the building’s environment and other tenants. Hence, we scrutinized each potential space for its aesthetic appeal and practicality in hosting regular, high-profile events integral to Baltic Watches’ customer engagement strategy.
As Baltic Watches’ search for a showroom in SoHo neared its end, the final stages of the acquisition process unfolded with precision and careful negotiation. This phase involved delicate decisions and complex arrangements to secure the perfect space for the brand.
We conducted the initial part of the search remotely, a testament to the modern world’s interconnectedness. Virtual tours and detailed online communication bridged the distance between Paris and New York. We provided Baltic Watches with extensive visual and descriptive insights into each potential space, taking a digital approach that allowed for a thorough and efficient selection process.
However, the dynamic changed when Clement Daniel, the co-founder of Baltic Watches, visited New York in person. His physical presence in the city fast-tracked the process. Ultimately, his visit proved pivotal in the decision-making process, turning virtual concepts into a concrete reality.
Tackling the complexities of New York City’s commercial leasing for a foreign company like Baltic Watches brought its own challenges, too. These leases, often lengthy and filled with intricate details, can be overwhelming, particularly for those less acquainted with the American legal landscape.
Our approach centered on ensuring clarity and understanding. We clarified somewhat complicated lease language into simpler terms, ensuring Baltic Watches was well-informed and confident. Moreover, securing a lease for Baltic Watches, a startup without a U.S. presence, required careful negotiation over concerns about its lack of a local commercial footprint. The focus was on establishing fair terms and protecting Baltic Watches’ interests regarding security deposits and financial agreements.
After extensive searching, we zeroed in on a showroom space at SL Green’s 104-110 Greene Street. With favorable lease terms in the face of the above mentioned challenges, we helped Baltic Watches kick off their presence in SoHo with a strong step forward.
The lease agreement for Baltic Watches at Suite 10A presented several key highlights:
- Square Footage: The space is 1,131 square feet.
- Lease Term: The agreement spans a 5-year term.
- Landlord’s Work: Includes a cosmetic upgrade, specifically painting and refinishing hardwood floors. The landlord is also responsible for ensuring adequate HVAC capacity, painting, and specific modifications like demolishing a half-height sheetrock wall and floor patching.
Our partnership with Baltic Watches focused on establishing their SoHo presence, integrating innovative strategy with practical insights. Despite them being abroad and $5,000 away from New York City, as their commercial realtor, we efficiently found their showroom space and negotiated favorable terms on their behalf. We successfully managed each step to secure their showroom at 104-110 Greene Street, not only focusing on aesthetics and functionality but also overcoming the complexities of leasing in a foreign market. We demonstrated that geographical distance and budget constraints shouldn’t ever hold you back.
Image source: Baltic Watches