When The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, a Los Angeles-based chain of java joints renowned for its signature line of trademarked Ice Blended beverages, arrived east back in 2011, New Yorkers were intrigued.
Like so many well-intentioned businesses before them, expansion happened rather rapidly; within a few months, there were three branches in close proximity throughout the Upper West Side. By October 2016, every NYC outpost was shuttered. One storefront left vacant — at 532 Amsterdam Avenue and 86th Street — has only recently been filled (h/t @UWSSOS).
The new inhabitant of the heavily trafficked corner spot next to a Key Food supermarket? Variazioni, of course.
Dubbed by its marketing team as the “premier retailer for fashion-forward names,” the boutique chain already has three locations on the UWS, with the most recent to open occupying the former Aldo space at 84th and Broadway.
Although Variazioni technically carries an array of designer names like Alice + Olivia, Michael Kors and Cole Haan, it’s primarily known for consistently having “closing” signs slapped on its front doors in order to entice customers with the promise of deep discounts.
“Variazioni is indeed a variation on the theme of those fake closeout shops that have been in the process of ‘going out of business’ for years,” a savvy shopper who’s visited the West 72nd Street shop explained on Yelp. “You know the drill: Put a ridiculously high original price on the tag so that when you slash it down 50%+ to a reasonable price, people think they’re getting a great deal. And there is always a clearance sale going on…”
Now, it’s unclear whether or not the UWS needed another Variazioni (and if its faux-sale practices are ethical), but residents will no doubt be pleased to see an occupant after six long years of emptiness. Just don’t go prepared to pick up pieces fresh from the runways of Milan Fashion Week. “If this stuff is actually Italian, then I’m the Pope,” another dissatisfied Yelper shared.