After a rocky year with retailers, Ivanka Trump's fashion brand opened a new store in the Trump Tower lobby on Thursday. The Midtown Manhattan location — currently the company's only brick-and-mortar retail space — follows a year in which a number of national retailers dropped the brand from their shelves. Although the shop's main focus appears to be handbags, the Ivanka Trump store also sells jewelry, candles, and an in-store exclusive Christmas ornament reportedly priced at $25 just in time for the tail end of the holiday shopping season.
By all accounts, the Ivanka Trump store is more of a millennial pink display case than a traditional storefront. According to the Daily Mail, the space appears to measure just 20 feet by 3 feet, with five shelves running the length of the store's main wall. Despite its petite size, the store appears to be an opportunity for the Ivanka Trump fashion brand to connect directly with customers after major retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped the brand.
"In the ever-changing retail landscape, the Ivanka Trump brand is committed to engaging with the customers directly," the company said in a statement. "Today, the Ivanka Trump brand is evolving in big ways, but the mission remains the same."
Nestled inside the Trump Tower lobby, shoppers must pass through metal detectors, bag screeners, and security personnel if they want to browse Ivanka Trump handbags. And according to New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill, it costs a pretty penny to protect the building the Ivanka Trump store has set up shop in. In a letter sent to Congress in December of last year, O'Neill said it cost up to $149,000 a day to protect Trump Tower. That cost reportedly jumps to $308,000 a day when President Donald Trump descends on his namesake building.
The location of the new Ivanka Trump store has also raised some concerns over whether the company is seeking to profit off the president's supporters as Trump Tower has become something of a hot tourist spot for Trump loyalists.
"This is another in a long line of conflicts of interests," Richard Painter, a former chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post. "By selling directly to die-hard Trump supporters, who are already hanging out at Trump Tower, she gets to pocket even higher [profit] margins."
Up until now, the Ivanka Trump fashion brand has sold its products almost exclusively through wholesale distribution to department stores and online sales. However, the Ivanka Trump store newly opened in Trump Tower on Thursday is not the company's first-ever venture into brick-and-mortar locations. Rather, it represents the fashion brand's first foray into a stand-alone apparel and accessories venture. A brick-and-mortar Ivanka Trump jewelry store that had been opened in New York City in 2011 was closed in 2015.
But sales for the Ivanka Trump fashion brand may not be what they used to. According to political blog the Hill, a YouGov BrandIndex survey conducted in November revealed the first daughter's fashion brand had slipped into the bottom 10 when it came to consumer perception nationwide. In October 2016, a grassroots political boycott known as Grab Your Wallet targeted Trump-associated brands, eventually causing big name retailers like Nordstrom, Belk, and Neiman Marcus to drop the Ivanka Trump line due to declining sales.
Ivanka took a "formal leave of absence" from both the Trump Organization and her eponymous fashion brand just before her father's inauguration in January. On her way out, she appointed Abigail Klem as head of the Ivanka Trump brand. However, rather than divest from her businesses upon accepting a job in the White House, Ivanka placed her assets in a trust, raising some concerns about potential conflict of interests.