Christine Moon, left, partner and stylist, with Meredith Kaplan, owner of Gratus

Christine Moon, left, partner and stylist, with Meredith Kaplan, owner of Gratus

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Gratus: Beverly Hills Store Is Like a ‘Best Friend’s Closet’

When opening a store, the most experienced retailers will fight for the real estate on the busiest corner. Not Meredith Kaplan.

The novice retailer opened her shop, Gratus,at the back of the second floor of 427 N. Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. The space is on top of a building featuring art galleries and nail salons.

Yet Kaplan, owner and partner in Gratus, feels the tucked-away location adds to her store’s ambiance. She wants the 650-square-foot shop to feel like a living room in a friend’s home.

“We want [Gratus] to feel like walking into a best friend’s closet,” she said. “It’s a hangout.”

The store opened quietly in July but celebrated its official opening with a party on Sept. 3.

While she was waiting for the property to open, Kaplan started receiving inventory at her West Los Angeles home. The new retailer began selling the merchandise at private events in her home. Kaplan said she never planned to run the store out of her house, but strategy and her product mix were a hit with customers, many of whom turned out for Gratus’ grand-opening party to shop, sip champagne and eat cupcakes.

Kaplan intends to build her business on this network of women eager for her take on fashion and looking for personal attention, which Kaplan finds lacking in retail these days. “If we don’t have what they need, we will find it in some other place to make their look complete,” she said. To finesse a client’s style, Kaplan has picked up items at Neiman Marcus. However, she intends to keep the great majority of what they need in her inventory.

Gratus is a multi-brand store offering retail price points ranging from $50 for a T-shirt to $1,500 for a sweater. Brands include Calvin Rucker, Dosa, Marni, Band of Outsiders, Hudson Jeans, DSquared2 and ATM.

In the future she may build a new store in a more conventional location, but for now Kaplan intends to build her business at the salon-like shop, designed with neutral tones, a marble table and a mohair settee.

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