Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Stone's Throw from Poverty, Brazil's Daslu Glimmers ; Sao Paulo's Opulent Department Store Moved into New $50 Million Digs Last Month with Marble Floors, Golf Carts, and a Heliport

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Stone's Throw from Poverty, Brazil's Daslu Glimmers ; Sao Paulo's Opulent Department Store Moved into New $50 Million Digs Last Month with Marble Floors, Golf Carts, and a Heliport

Article excerpt

On the ground floor, there are Dolce & Gabbana T-shirts for $620. On the first, Cartier watches go for $40,000. On the second, Ferretti advertises yachts at a cool $5.4 million. There is a heliport on the roof and golf carts to drive shoppers across the elegant marble floors.

Spend an hour at the new location of Daslu, a posh Sao Paulo department store, and see the rich side of this nation's wealth gap, one of the world's largest. While as many as 58 million Brazilians live on a dollar a day - many just a stone's throw from Daslu's heavily guarded gates - there are plenty of wealthy Brazilians who can afford to live in surroundings as opulent as any Manhattan socialite or Arab sheikh.

"The people who manage international luxury brands will tell you that their Brazil stores are among the most profitable in the world," says Fernando Neves, director of Escopo, a consultancy group, and author of a recent study on Brazil's luxury market. "Brazil is a poor country, but it is one where the rich people are very rich."

Nowhere is that more evident than at Daslu. It began in humble surroundings in 1958 when two rich Paulistas decided to start a fashion business from their garage. The women sold clothes, and by their own admission, gossiped a lot - first with friends, and then with friends of friends, and then, after moving to a proper shop, to moneyed customers who came from all over Brazil.

The exemplary service given to clients helped Daslu build up a large and loyal customer base, and the store grew quickly, particularly after Brazil opened its economy to foreign goods in the early 1990s. Daslu signed a series of deals that helped establish it as the Brazilian representative of internationally known labels like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.

At their previous location, they bought adjacent properties and knocked down the walls of 23 houses to construct the one-of-a-kind shop floor. …

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