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  • Writer's pictureBEBE HODGES '18

The Whale Swims to Cincinnati: The Vineyard Vines Store at Kenwood Towne Center

At Saint Ursula Academy there is a large population of Vineyard Vines fans who support the colorful and preppy brand and its t-shirts, baseball caps, and signature shepshirts. Because of this widespread praise for the iconic whale, it seems like a no-brainer the new Vineyard Vines store would create great excitement here and across the city. But just as the huge Lilly Pulitzer at Target event earlier this year created a controversial stir, having one’s favorite store so close and available can generate mixed feelings.

More than a year ago, rumors surfaced in the Business Courier that a Vineyard Vines retail store was to open in Kenwood Towne Centre, in the previous location of Sterling Cut Glass east of Nordstrom. The store was designed to be about 4800 square feet with an exterior entrance only. As Local 12 news put it, Vineyard Vines is “bringing the preppy look back to the tri-state.”

The brand, created by brothers Ian and Shep Murray in 1998, is a northeastern preppy clothing company that originated in Martha’s Vineyard with the motto “everyday should feel this good.” The business is all about not taking life too seriously and having fun. This is clearly portrayed by their bright bowties and neckties that feature fish, palm trees, martinis, and more, all of which form the basis of the brand. The company’s relaxed, smiling whale logo is the clear epitome of this stress-free atmosphere. Since 1998 the company has grown tremendously and now, in addition to the ties, it sells clothes and accessories including formal dresses, casual shirts, and just recently added performance wear to the website. Examples of specific products include a $148 pleated silk cotton skirt, an $85 angelfish tie, and a $295 cashmere v-neck sweater. Vineyard Vines’ products are sold in more than 600 specialty and department stores worldwide, as well as through a seasonal catalog and online.

Since the announcement of its oncoming arrival at Kenwood, the Vineyard Vines store has hyped up much excitement. Such examples of this enthusiasm were seen on social media sites like Twitter. User timtimmah27 was eager to know when the store was to open and tweeted at Vineyard Vines asking for the date. In addition other users clearly showed much eagerness with tweets like “Vineyard Vines is coming to Kenwood mall oh my God.”

Finally, on October 13, 2015 the Vineyard Vines store opened in Kenwood adding to the other 40 or so retail shops the company has across the country. This shop is the first Vineyard Vines store in Cincinnati and the second in the state, following the installment in the Easton Town Center of Columbus. Just as the company continues to evolve, so do the shops. As each new location is built, changes are made to each so that every location is unique. Katie Koesterman ’16, an employee at the store, reveals one such attribute is a customized Bengals “boat” in the center of the store. According to Katie, “every Vineyard Vines store has a ‘boat’ where the cash registers for checkout are located” but unlike most locations the Kenwood store’s boat is customized to reflect the city. In addition the store is unique because of its exterior entrance that gives “more of a boutique style and look to it.”

Katie also adds that she sees many SUA students and alumnae at the store. In fact, each day she has worked she has seen an SUA student shopping. This encounter with her friends from high school and other schools and colleges is one of her favorite parts of the job, along with her fellow crew who are her “second family because we all get along like siblings.”

It is no wonder Katie sees so many SUA girls at the store, as its arrival has brought much excitement. But with many great things there are also feelings of dislike. These mixed emotions can be seen by other Saint Ursula Academy students who have commented on the Vineyard Vines store. Abby Galloway ’18 said, “I love having a Vineyard Vines store in the mall! It is more convenient and such a cute store to see. Vineyard Vines is one of my favorite brands!” Despite this excitement, “I was slightly disappointed about having one in Cincinnati because the brand will become more of a regular item than an exclusive one.” But overall she “love[s] to see the whale finally coming to [her] own city.” Another SUA student, Maddie Gerding ’18, mentioned her indifference about its arrival. “To be honest I have no feelings about it,” says Maddie. “While Vineyard Vines is a cool store and I like most of the clothing that other people have I do not ever find myself shopping there, [but] maybe I will be motivated to.”

Whether you are excited, upset, or indifferent about the Vineyard Vines store at the Kenwood Mall, its arrival has created quite a stir. According to Katie, “no matter if it is sunny, raining, or snowing, [… the] double doors [are always] open all day long” so “stop in if you haven't been there before!”

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