Amanda Aguilera

When Emporium DNA first came to Broadway, students criticized the store’s prices, which many considered unaffordable. But a year in, Emporium DNA has adjusted its price points and retail mix to better situate itself in the Yale and New Haven community.

The average price of items at the boutique, which offers designer brands such as Rebecca Minkoff and Sam Edelman, has dropped from several hundred dollars to around $100, manager Shea Branch said. The store has also moved from stocking bright, bold designs to items more suitable for everyday wear, she added.

Branch said this shift has made the store more affordable and attuned to the needs of its surrounding area.

“Being here, I have been able to meet many different people and many people have said they thought they could not come in because they thought it would be too expensive,” Branch said. “But they have all been able to find something they love and can buy.”

Students interviewed agreed the store still appears to be expensive, citing what they had heard from friends and the store’s reputation when it first came to Broadway. Serena Lian ’17 said she has never entered the store because she believes the offerings far exceed her budget.

Most sandals, heels and boots on display near the store’s front door cost between $70 and $170.

Branch said the small size of the store makes it easy for staff and managers to hear customer feedback. Branch added that the store’s boutique model — which carries a variety of brands and articles of clothing — allows her supervisors at the chain’s headquarters to tweak the product mix of individual stores as they see fit.

Emporium DNA added value to the shopping options on Broadway because of this boutique model, Branch said. The model enables shoppers to browse through designer labels from across the world in a store near their homes. The boutique model also makes it feasible for staff members to keep track of the preferences of individual customers, helping them craft complete outfits, from the shoes on their feet to the hats on their heads, Branch said.

“As of right now, business is good,” Branch said. “Of course we can continue to grow the brand, the company, the staff and selling techniques by making them better.”

The success of Emporium DNA on Broadway adds to the larger trend of the area’s economic growth over the past decade. From 2002 to 2013, the number of food and retail jobs within a mile of Broadway has increased by 17 percent, said Mark Abraham ’04, executive director of DataHaven, a nonprofit collecting statistics about the city, in an email to the News.

DataHaven’s statistics show that downtown New Haven has become the most desirable destination for new retailers hoping to open in the Elm City, Abraham said, explaining that the growth in food and retail jobs in the city has been largely confined to the area.

“While this is a fairly modest change and the majority of food and retail jobs in our metropolitan area are still located outside of New Haven,” Abraham said, “the shifting growth pattern of retail jobs, combined with an increasing population of residents and workers, suggests that New Haven’s downtown area has been becoming a relatively more attractive place for retailers and restaurants.”

Emporium DNA has two other locations in Washington D.C. and Las Vegas.