Karen Murray is the owner of the luxury multi-brand store Fivestory, which has opened its second location in Southampton Village on Jobs Lane, the first is on Madison Avenue.
The new Fivestory at the beach location carries brands like Cara Cara, Etro, Rianna and Nina, Cotton Citizen, Bathseva, and a curated selection of pre-loved items.
On Tuesday, August 17, from 2 to 5 PM there will be a summer soiree to celebrate the brand Favorite Daughter by Sara and Erin Foster, who will both attend the event from 3 to 4 PM. The celebration kicks off the East Coast launch for the brand. Fivestory will be offering a curated assortment of Favorite Daughter favorites including “The Breakup” blazer and dress combo, signature cashmere, and the waitlisted “Favorite Pant.”
“Fivestory offers one of the most beautiful, intimate shopping environments in New York, coupled with the best of both established and emerging designers. Favorite Daughter is excited to be among the store’s most coveted brands in both the Southampton and Manhattan locations,” said Sara and Erin.
We caught up with Murray to learn more about Fivestory.
Tell us a little bit about Fivestory and how you became involved.
I always admired Fivestory and the eclectic selection of products and categories. I had a chance meeting with Claire Distenfeld, the previous owner, and I mentioned to her how much I admired the store and threw out a few ideas of what I would do if it were my store. At that point she was considering opening up her current lifestyle snack brand and recommended I talk to her father about purchasing the store. I did that and the rest is history.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to this point.
I had been an executive in the apparel business for the past 35 years but served as an operator working for various brands in both menswear and women’s wear. I always had a desire to do something a bit more entrepreneurial and had a vision of what I thought would be the perfect store and experience which I used as inspiration when relaunching Fivestory. I started concepting what I thought would be the perfect environment and mixture of products. I intend to continue that vision and open up a cafe, offer more events, art showings, and special occasion exchange policies. These ideas are in addition to our roster of luxury designers, emerging talent, exclusive and pre-loved/vintage apparel as well as jewelry, footwear, accessories and home.
What brought the business to Southampton? And how has it been so far?
Last year during Covid we had a New York store filled with inventory and not enough customers. So we packed up a van and tested a two week pop up on Jobs Lane in Southampton. That pop up worked out very well and I knew my second store would be a more permanent location in Southampton. The store has been doing very well and I look forward to it being a permanent fixture in the Hamptons.
Talk a little bit about some of the brands you carry.
The brands that we have in Southampton are Etro, Batsheva, Rianna and Nina, Cotton Citizen, and more. We also have some exclusive brands such as TWP which is an everyday classic and best seller. We’re really excited to have added swim to this location as well. We’ve picked up Maygel Coroner, Missoni Mare, and Oseree.
This location is a more casual outpost of New York location, so we are also featuring some denim brands like Ksubi and GRLFRND.
Can you tell us about the pre-loved up cycle section in the store?
Pre-loved and vintage has always been a category that I have admired and collected for years. I buy online, attend vintage shows, and purchase at different consignment stores wherever I travel. Even when it wasn’t fashionable 30 years ago, I would pair new luxury pants with vintage tweed blazers, I loved the idea that my outfit was unique and couldn’t be replicated. Now I’m really enjoying helping my customers do this. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to watch someone walk out of the store feeling fabulous about themselves. And it happens several times a day!
Have you had to pivot Fivestory due to COVID-19?
Yes, yes, and yes. I bought the store in February 2020 and then moved it from a side street on 69th to right on Madison Avenue in a prime location.
This new location was much bigger and more prime but it was closed in March of 2020, two days before the onset of Covid. I had pre-ordered plenty of merchandise and it all arrived right before the shut down. We were closed until July and it was very slow up until two months ago. Now New York is back! But it took over a year. I had planned a big opening and events, but with Covid no one was interested in a new store opening . . . understandably so . . . Now it’s summer and we’re here and out in the Hamptons and come fall we will celebrate the New York store with a grand reopening and plenty of events and runway fashion.
What’s next for you and Fivestory?
A grand opening in Palm Beach this fall and focusing on being the best in customer service and experience in all of our stores!