ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A prominent business owner and Allentown’s newest city councilman is planning to expand retail operations in downtown Allentown.
Santo Napoli, owner of men’s clothing, footwear and accessories store assembly88 at 544 Hamilton St., is planning to open a women’s fashion boutique adjacent to assembly88 later this year at 542 Hamilton St.
The new store, expected to open by late summer or early fall, will occupy a renovated space that previously housed Lehigh Valley Pretrial Services, Inc., which recently moved to the lower level of 501 Hamilton St.
The name of the new store is still being finalized, but it will have a tie-in to its neighbor – something like assembly88 women or assembly88 for her, Napoli said.
Interior connections in an adjoining wall will allow customers to walk from the men’s side to the women’s side and vice versa without going outside.
“You’ll also be able to make men’s and women’s purchases at registers on both sides,” Napoli said. “I don’t want it to be where a husband and wife come in and have to check out two different times. That’s a pain. So, if someone’s buying two men’s items and two women’s items, they can just make one purchase on either side.”
Napoli opened assembly88 in 2014 and previously operated other Hamilton Street fashion stores The Archive and New York Urban.
In opening assembly88, Napoli aimed to create a shopping destination for the mature male “who wants to look smart and confident, whether in a boardroom or at a ball game,” according to a description on the business’ website.
The store, featuring exposed brick walls, a restored tin ceiling and the building’s original 19th century hardwood flooring, blends the “strength of the city’s manufacturing heritage with the smooth professionalism of its 21st century renaissance.”
There are also enlarged photos of Allentown’s manufacturing heyday displayed on the walls.
Napoli, the son of Italian immigrants, decided on the name assembly88 as a tribute to Kramer’s Music House – the original occupant of 544 Hamilton St. – and the number of keys on the pianos that were built and sold there.
The new women’s store will be similar to assembly88’s long and narrow footprint, but it will be about 2 feet wider, Napoli said.
“It will have a similar aesthetic, but the plan with the architect is that we’re going to make it a little softer for the women,” Napoli said. “We’re also adding extra fitting rooms – bigger ones that can accommodate strollers. So, we’re really putting some thought into and want it to become a friendly, fun place for females to shop.”
Assembly88 carries more than a dozen premier clothing brands, including Faherty, Marine Layer and Peter Millar, along with high-quality footwear and accessories such as belts, hats, socks and wallets.
Napoli is still finalizing the women’s clothing lines that will be carried, but he notes that some of assembly88’s brands, including Patagonia, Barbour, Vuori and Vans, also have women’s lines and will carry over to the women’s store.
“You’re going to see some of that, but we’re also going to include some new brands that are just for women,” Napoli said. “On the women’s side, I also want to get into some more accessory brands and maybe some home goods.”
Napoli, a member of the Downtown Allentown Business Alliance and the Allentown Parking Authority Board, earlier this month was appointed by Allentown City Council to fill the open seat left by now state Rep. Josh Siegel.
With more than 25 years of small business experience, he’s excited to bring a fresh perspective to city council.
“It’s my passion,” Napoli told 69 News following his appointment. “We have a very large and diverse small business community in Allentown, and I want to help be part of the representation for those folks.”
On Tuesday, Napoli also received the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Community Partner Award.
The distinction is presented to a successful and esteemed business/individual that is well-known to operate with integrity and is a premier supporter of the Chamber along with its communities, mission and goals.