SOMETHING IS HAPPENING HERE, AND SMART RETAILERS ARE PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION! A bevy of new retail concepts are suddenly sprouting up around the country, aimed at giving stores a new look and a new aura of excitement. Are you aware of this movement? Well, we suggest you check out the action because the major players in the fashion field are fast evolving new personalities for stores, and new ways of retailing clothing and accessories.
“People are tired of the same old, same old,” declared Raymond Graj, of Graj + Gustavsen, a hot brand marketing and store concepts firm. “They’re hungry for new things that are not mass produced, and don’t want to buy into cookie-cutter,” he says. As one major industry publication put it: this is an “attempt to transform America’s cookie cutter landscape.”
Stores are taking on fresh images and auras, custom-tailored to where they are located and who their customers are. They are expanding their focus of operation. They are reaching toward more personal involvement with the customer in myriad different ways. It is all very exciting to witness!
JUST LOOK AT some of these big name brands: Disney is fast reinventing its stores to excite more business. Levi Strauss & Co. is setting up 1,000 foot stores for its new brand, Denizen, which will cater to 18- to 28-year-old women and men in emerging middle class countries such as India and China. It’s an international as well as psychological block-buster effort underway, promising to bring big dollars into the fashion retail field as soon as the economy gets going again. Maybe, sooner!
APPEALING TO A DIFFERENT CLIENTELE IS ONE WAY OF JUMP-STARTING THIS NEW STORE IDEAL. LOOK HERE FOR SOME GREAT PRODUCTS TO SUIT SPECIAL INTERESTS:
- Don’t miss out on the strong bridal market! This 2-row bridal choker set can start the momentum rolling for a new marriage sector in your store.
- Are you close to the sea? Appeal to beach goers with this charming multicolor shell bracelet!
PROTOTYPES OF NEW STORE concepts are likewise popping up from coast to coast. Brooks Brothers has opened its first free-standing girls’ and boys’ shop called Fleese. The new operation represents a “younger state of mind” for Brooks Brothers, and is explained to be a “test” store for, among other things, the company’s first go at girls’ merchandise.
Blooomingdale’s is putting forth a beachy store concept in Santa Monica, California, a take-off on the store’s contemporary-driven store in Manhattan’s Soho. Bloomingdale’s expects to replicate the idea with local input in many different locations around the country. Ann Taylor is opening a new prototype store in Atlanta where it will test new retail concepts.
J. Crew has opened a smashing new bridal concept store in Manhattan, one that takes a wide view of the entire marriage scene, from before and after bridal parties, to rehearsal dinners, the honeymoon and the bridal night. If there is something to merchandise here, the store intends to grasp it. The consumer is the beneficiary, having everything needed for any particular event or situation all presented in one place. The whole ball of wax, you might say. Dynamite!
Ahead of Competition
THERE IS A SURGE among strong retailers looking at ways to position themselves ahead of the competition through new prototypes. What’s more, the new concept stores have a strong global flare, and retailers plan to take them international as well.
One of the most outstanding examples of this new store concept rollout is Starbucks Corp., where Dawn Clark, vice president of international store design says, “The days of being able to just stamp things out isn’t good enough anymore.” She says the bar is higher, the demand for moré sophistication stronger. Customers want to see variation, she contends. They don’t want boring.
–Retailers across the nation are apparently listening to the Starbucks’ veep and watching what is coming down from the Seattle headquarters.
To start with, the store is incorporating wine and beer into its menu in many locations. It is also testing a new brand, the 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea concept, which has a different roasting method and no relationship to the Starbucks’ name. The roll-out will also feature a European bakery.
More New York
ROY STREET IS ANOTHER Starbucks’ prototype concept, one that tries to reflect the feeling of the local architecture. Even the Starbucks’ store in Manhattan’s trendy Soho has undergone sprucing up, with new, darker woods, more comfortable seating. You might say it is more “New York” than ever!
Clark points out that Starbucks grew so fast, the firm didn’t realize how alike all its stores were. “It was really one size fits all, and it turned out some communities didn’t relate to that. Retailers,” she continued, “have to really appeal to the consumer with a differentiated brand and store experience.”
LOOKING FOR AN EXPERIENCE THAT FITS THE LOCAL TASTE AND INTEREST CAN BE CHALLENGING AND FUN. SO CAN FINDING THE RIGHT PRODUCTS TO FIT THE NEW IMAGE. LOOK HERE FOR STARTERS:
- Hip and young and trendy! These black and white inlay earrings have pear-shaped spear drops that are very today!
- Think about expanding out into other accessory arenas. How about this croc print evening clutch? It’s very rich and socially proper!