WALNUT CREEK — After more than 20 years in business as one of the largest fine gift stores in the country, David M. Brian will relocate to an interior space in Broadway Plaza to make way for Neiman Marcus.
"You just don't see gift stores this big anywhere," said David McCaulou, who owns David M. Brian, along with several McCaulou's retail stores. "Our main business is carrying all the fine brands of classic and contemporary gift ware."
The 32,000-square-foot store with a basement features quality merchandise from around the world, including European Baccarat crystal, Steuben, Lalique, Waterford, Kosta Boda, Swarovski, Arthur Court, Nambe, Kate Spade, Vera Wang, Simon Pearce, Faberge and all well-known fine china brands, McCaulou said.
Although he had a long-term lease in his prime location on South Main Street near Mt. Diablo Boulevard, McCaulou said he struck a deal with Broadway Plaza's owners to move David M. Brian to accommodate the ultra-upscale department store Neiman Marcus.
"We are one of the home-grown retailers," said McCaulou, who lives in Orinda and operates stores in Contra Costa County, Marin County and Napa. "Broadway Plaza doesn't want to lose that element. That's why they more or less partnered on this to make this happen."
Broadway Plaza strives to provide shoppers with a mix of retailers, said Michael Johnson, vice president of property management for the Macerich Co., which owns the shopping center. He said the mall values its long-standing relationship with McCaulou and appreciates his willingness to relocate.
"We just sat down and talked about the opportunity and what Neiman brings to the table, to Broadway Plaza and the community," Johnson said. "Dave recognized the benefit to everyone and is excited about the process. I think it speaks volumes, because he's been a well-respected and valued merchant to the community for over 25 years and that's a significant contribution."
The deal came together when the Gap's lease expired, freeing up that space, Johnson said. Macerich is still in negotiations to find another location for that retailer, which moved out last month. Construction on the new David M. Brian store is already underway, with plans to open in the location next to Crate and Barrel by Oct. 1.
"We're all working together so that David M. Brian would only be down for a few days," McCaulou said. "We'll stay open in our current location until the last minute, so to speak."
The agreement is not contingent on Neiman Marcus' pending development application with the city.
"Our deal is done," McCaulou said. "We're moving and we're getting a new store and there's no turning back. We're very enthusiastic about it. I think it's great for everybody. We love our prominent corner, but we would also welcome Neiman Marcus as a close neighbor."
The Planning Commission reviewed the Neiman Marcus development proposal last week and expects to get more details July 24, before the council is scheduled to vote on the project Aug. 5. The commission was generally supportive of the plans, but had concerns about proposed valet parking and the size of the new 107,100-square-foot, three-story building.
"In order for this to work, it really does need to be a signature design that complements and adds to the plaza," said Commissioner Jon Malkovich. "I'm glad it would not displace David M. Brian."
Although many McCaulou's customers are excited about the possibility of Neiman Marcus coming to town, they're also happy David M. Brian isn't going away.
"I like the fact that it's like a Gump's and I don't have to go to San Francisco," said Lindy Sitzmann, 65, of Orinda. "It has a little bit of everything. It's one-stop shopping, but really nice one-stop shopping. It's a wonderful thing for Walnut Creek. It would be awful if they ever left."
Reach Theresa Harrington at 925-945-4764 or email@example.com.
David M. Brian is at 1126 Broadway Plaza. Details are at 925-947-1991 or www.davidmbrian.com. Information about Neiman Marcus plans are available at 925-943-5829 or www.walnut-creek.org. Click Public Meetings, then choose item 4c on the May 29 Planning Commission agenda.