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Longtime UWS Lingerie Shop Busts Into New Space with 'Bra Bar'

By Emily Frost | August 12, 2013 8:11am
 The longtime UWS business has spread its wings, but has stayed in the neighborhood. 
Town Shop Lingerie
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UPPER WEST SIDE — It got too big for its bustier. 

Legendary lingerie store Town Shop has reopened across the street from its former digs in a larger, brighter space more than double the size that includes a "bra bar," TV sports lounge for men and swimsuits galore.  

With space for customers to browse more independently, the 4,000-square-foot store added the fun features to emphasize that customer service is still at its core.

At the bra bar, sleek barstools sit in front of an expansive countertop so that shoppers can sidle up to the goods, with a salesperson serving as the "bratender" under the glow of warm mood lighting. 

It's a modern touch befitting the newly renovated store, which just reopened last month, said Danny Koch, who inherited the shop from his grandmother. Town Shop has been located on Broadway since 1936, after initially opening in the city in 1888.

As for the new sports lounge, he explained that men would often get fussy in the old space, yelling, "Where's my wife?" — so the shop created something just for them.

Instead of sitting uncomfortably in a chair or rushing their wives along, guys now have their own section of the store — complete with a flat-screen TV tuned to ESPN, men's underwear and loungewear, plenty of chairs and even autographed New York Giants paraphernalia. 

The reaction from customers of both sexes has been over the top, Koch said.

"One woman said, 'Oh my God' four times when she walked in," he said. 

A big glass entryway, which Koch modeled after the Apple store, gives customers their first glimpse of the airy space. Inside, designer and architect Debbie Sansevero used 1950s photos of a previous iteration of the store as inspiration, creating retro touches like a three-sided counter.

"We couldn't go forward without honoring history," said Koch, who said the previous store, just across the street on Broadway between West 81st and 82nd streets for the past 77 years, was far too cramped. 

Bras, lingerie and pajamas were jammed together without the more sophisticated room to breathe they now have in the new space, said Koch. 

The dressing rooms are now closer to the swimwear and underwear sections so that customers can move more freely between browsing and trying things on. 

And, there's a three-way mirror to view your butt — a very important addition, Koch added.

"We're always out there looking for the best of the best," Koch said. "We want to be on the cutting edge."

The Town Shop has long had a loyal following, and not just from the neighborhood, Koch said.

"We see the amount of taxis that show up every day," he said, adding that many of his customers hail from the Bay Area.

"San Francisco might be our second strongest market," Koch said.

Embracing the fresh face of the store, he hopes to add special events, like serving "bra-tinis" and "bra-garitas" at the bra bar and hosting local comedians and customers Susie Essman, Judy Gold and Caroline Ray. 

The JCC in Manhattan is also interested in partnering on an event at the store "connecting heart, mind and breast," he said. 

Though the renovation and move went over budget, "north of $700,000," Koch said he couldn't be happier. 

"It's a dream come true for me," he said.