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Smack dab in the middle of New York City’s Garment District, the new department store Bene Rialto is bringing new designers and trends to savvy shoppers in a chic and distinctive setting.

The “good marketplace” (“Bene Rialto” = Italian) is not your typical luxury department store. For starters, it is housed in a five-story prewar townhouse, making the shopping experience unique and very NYC. Second, Bene Rialto’s vision is to bring new designers to shoppers, giving up-and-coming artists an amazing space to sell their wares. The store features over 75 brands merchandised throughout the three floor marketplace. The store’s mission? “To create a new kind of marketplace designed to connect people to each other, to experiences, to ideas, and to ourselves” while “scouting new fashion brands, emerging chefs, artisans, and teachers.”

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There is also an art gallery on the top floor that makes for a must-see stop when in the neighborhood, even if you are not out to shop. However, you might just find a fabulous pair of earrings or that perfect trench coat you’ve been looking for while on your way down from the gallery. The third floor gallery space is a way for the store to highlight artists and their work. By late winter, a showroom for trade will occupy the fourth floor. The space will accommodate events, thus creating a calendar of fashion events, lifestyle seminars, and workshops and bringing new clientele and guests into the store.

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(Above: my favorite painting from Bene Rialto’s gallery)

Shoppers are greeted by a friendly concierge and led on a unique shopping exploration through women’s ready-to-wear, handbags, jewelry, men’s & women’s footwear, active leisure-wear, outerwear, beauty and gifts. The staff were all friendly, eager to help, and seemed genuinely happy to be there (a huge plus!).

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Bene Rialto is the vision of Caryn Neary, a 15-year former buyer and executive at Saks Fifth Ave. Hot2Molly had the opportunity to speak with Neary in an exclusive interview during the store’s opening event and she could not have been more lovely and passionate about her new “baby.”

H2M: How did you come up with the idea for Bene Rialto?

CN: Bene Rialto was created over the course of, I would say, my entire career. I started at Saks Fifth Avenue and I sort of grew out of there. In working with different brands (I worked in men’s accessories and women’s ready to wear and women’s shoes and handbags), you can see the plight of designers in trying to break in and get into some of the high-end stores. And then I moved into doing some consulting years later for some of these same brands and I got to hear what they wanted and how I thought I could help them out. So I came up with the idea to create a space that would give them the opportunity and the platform so they could bring in products and get them in front of the customer and really test out different products and ideas.

H2M: Does Bene Rialto feature mostly up-and-coming designers?

CN: We’re working with emerging designers. We’re working with designers who are looking, who might not have retail in New York City. A lot of our designers goods are made in New York or made in the U.S. But really, most importantly, Bene Rialto is about small designers who are really looking to grow their business and how we can create connections for them within the industry. We want to introduce them to other retailers, bloggers and press and also the customer while helping them to prosper and grow.

H2M: Tell me about the exciting combination of art and fashion inside of Bene Rialto.

CN:We really wanted the space to be about what we find New Yorkers and people in general like about lifestyles brands. What that means is it’a art, it’s food, it’s fashion; what you see are things that people are excited about. It’s about turning the space over so that we’re morphing constantly. It’s not a pop-up because we don’t want to just be here for a short time. We want to really expand with the brands and grow with them and I think that includes fashion, it includes art, it includes music and includes a lot of things.

H2M: It’s a fantastic idea – that people could come in to go to the gallery upstairs and as they trickle down, they find a bag or piece of jewelry they love and shop. The pieces in here are beautiful.

CN: We describe our business often by adjectives and nouns, so we talk about connection, we talk about discovery; we use words that we feel customers really respond to. And also what we respond to. What we have on our business cards is we all have a “be.” It says “Bene” but we also talk about the “be.” Mine is about being innovative or being inspiring – who do you want to be and how do we want to morph to help each customer.

H2M: You look amazing tonight wearing a gorgeous dress from one of the featured designers, Nha Khanh.

CN: Her collection is so beautiful. She has a lot of evening pieces. She has so many beautiful pieces but also this can morph from day to evening.

H2M: So many of the pieces here at Bene Rialto look perfect for transitioning from day to night or work to play.

CN: We have great designers. Valdis and Alala are two brands that are both New York brands but also can do that sort of weekend wear – that easy jacket you throw on when you’re going out or going to brunch.

H2M: The pieces here look like they could become staple pieces in a shopper’s closet.

CN: Exactly. We want shoppers to be excited about discovering the brands and not just going to the women’s area or going to the men’s area. We want them to walk through and discover their new favorite brand.

H2M: Thank you so much and congratulations on the store’s opening and your achievement!

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The store has a fantastic website. Check it out here!

(Lead Image Credit: Jessica Lin/Bene Rialto)

(Caryn Neary Photo Credit Brian Ach/Getty Image)

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