Cal Poly Downtown store moving to larger, upscale location on Higuera Street

Cal Poly soon will soon open its downtown store in a larger, more upscale location at the corner of Higuera and Garden streets, the site of the former Crazy Jay’s women’s clothing store.

Cal Poly Downtown is expected to open its doors Saturday in the historic Maino Building at 767 Higuera St., around the corner from Linnaea’s on Garden Street, with an additional 1,300 square feet to work with.

For 23 years, the retail shop had operated in 2,600 square feet of space about two blocks away at 959 Higuera St. It closed Sunday in preparation for the move this week. The store is run by the Cal Poly Corp., a nonprofit auxiliary organization supporting the university.

The store offers Cal Poly products such as apparel, wines by the bottle, specialty food items and assorted gifts for all ages. The larger store will allow for a more spacious presentation of merchandise and more inventory.

Last year, the shop brought in $1.4 million in revenue. With the new location, revenues are projected to increase by 15 to 20 percent, according to Lorlie Leetham, executive director of the Cal Poly Corp. and associate vice president of commercial services.

“We are fortunate because we could have looked for a long time and not found something as good as this location,” Leetham said. “As everybody knows, location is everything in retail business.”

All profits generated by the store are directed back to the university.

“Our downtown store has always offered a great way for customers to get Cal Poly gear, wine and food products without having to come on campus,” Leetham said.

The corporation has invested about $280,000 in the new store, which doesn’t include the investment by the building owners, the Maino Corp., to bring the building up to code, said Kelly Azel, a Cal Poly communications specialist.

The new site features modern fixtures, materials and lighting, as well as a stainless steel slat wall and natural stone columns as part of a contemporary, industrial motif.

The look was created by Jeff Grant, who has designed several other high-profile retail spaces, including the stadium stores for the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Denver Broncos, among other clients such as zoo and museum shops.

The store employs seven students at any given time, and the new location may lead to additional hiring opportunities.

Cal Poly Downtown is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, according to its website.

The building at 959 Higuera, operated by Copeland Properties, is set for a renovation, which prompted the Cal Poly Corp. to look for a new space. The lease agreement between the corporation and Copeland Properties expires in March, but the corporation chose to move early because the new location was ready, Leetham said.

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