Who’s killing it in the New York retail space? Recently the Retail Oasis team was in New York for the Fast Company Innovation Festival and since we were over there anyway, we thought we’d check out some retail.
So who were our favourites? We visited MANY stores, but in no particular order here’s our top 5.
Philipp Plein pop up (No Mercy on Mercer St)
40 Mercer Street, New York
We saw some amazing examples of store design during our time in New York, but the Philipp Plein store “No Mercy on Mercer St” really takes the cake. The store is the first ever “pop-up” concept store from the German fashion designer and has a very edgy underground feel (especially compared to traditional Philipp Plein stores).
Designed especially for the location and inspired by NYC urban street style – the store features LED lights hanging from the ceiling, pinball machines, a wall completely comprised of tape players / boom boxes and even an actual 1987 Ferrari Testarossa parked in-store. Not to mention there’s some seriously cool (and very expensive) exclusive limited-edition sneakers. Amazing!
837 Washington Street, New York
The role of the physical store is changing. More and more we’re seeing retailers use the traditional bricks and mortar store not just to sell, but to act as a consumer touchpoint to build their brand.
There’s no more perfect example of this than with Samsung 837. Samsung’s flagship “837” store isn’t a retail store as we’ve come to expect from Apple, Microsoft or any other tech companies. It’s an experience. And apart from the cafe, you can’t purchase a single Samsung product anywhere inside the 55,000 space.
The store is a physical manifestation of the Samsung brand and is designed to showcase everything Samsung, resulting in a store that feels more like a playground or amusement park than your typical retail space (once you walk inside you’re even made to sign a waiver and given a wrist brand). There’s heaps of interactive technology-based art installations and engrossing demonstrations of everything Samsung. For example virtual reality surfboards and a rollercoaster showcasing the Samsung Gear VR in action. The whole thing is “4D” which makes you feel like you’re actually there (you actually stand on a physical moving surfboard or strap yourself into moving rollercoaster seats).
At the heart of the three-story building is a massive theatre screen that combines 96 55-inch screens where they hold a range of special events (e.g. concerts and screenings). Existing customers can also come to 837 for troubleshooting and customer support (with a very “Genius Bar” vibe). Samsung is also making a big deal about 837’s role in the local Manhattan community as well – for instance the company partnered with Rag & Bone to design employee clothing.
The store’s a really great example of the power of experiential retail (I lost complete track of time in here and personally spent about 3 hours in-store).
Google Hardware pop up
131 Greene Street, New York
For the third year in a row, Google has opened up pop-up stores in select cities across the US. The Google Hardware store in Soho (funnily enough just around the corner from Apple) officially opened on the 18th of October and will be running through to the 31st of December.
The store is like walking into a hardware shop – right down to fake paint cans, toolboxes and staff who are even wearing actual tool belts. All the products are on wooden benches / boards and underneath these are drawers. Slide them out and you will see sketches of the design process for the relevant product. It’s a nice insight into showing off the thought process behind Google’s latest hardware.
All the products are designed to be played with, there’s posters throughout the store with fun illustrations showcasing phrases or scenarios for Google’s new devices. At the heart of the store is the “smart treehouse”, which is essentially a demonstrated smart home. Once inside you can play with Google assistant or home hub to change the lights in the treehouse, open the blinds, start playing music and more. Stations (similarly to the Sonos flagship store down the road) show off how the Google home hub and the Pixel 3 can be used around the home.
Even though the store borrow’s many elements from other stores, the whole thing comes together perfectly – showcasing the design process right through to how the product works in your home.
200 5th Avenue, New York
We saw many really great “Grab and Go” concepts in New York, particularly from the likes of Whole Foods and Essen. However our favourite would have to be Eataly.
Eataly is an immersive marketplace dedicated to the wonders of Italian cuisine. It’s the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world and has just about every kind of Italian edible you would want to consume. Eataly allows consumers to experience the food – touch it, smell it, eat it and purchase it – all the while learning about it. The store’s arranged roughly by types of food (for example, one area just containing deserts). Add to this glorified supermarket layout a couple of restaurants, a wine bar, a gift shop and tons of people.
There’s a lot retailers can learn from Eataly. For instance within Eataly, you get a feeling of immersion and total sensory experience. Almost every sign within the store is in both English and Italian. And you can even purchase an Italian newspaper with your espresso.
9 9th Avenue, New York
If you follow Retail Oasis you’ll know we’ve mentioned Restoration Hardware multiple times. But we LOVE everything about this brand.
Restoration Hardware is unlike any other furniture store we’ve experienced. The new Manhattan flagship (opened in September) is a 90,000 square foot space spread across an impressive six floors. As you walk the massive 6 floor building, it feels more like you’re inside a home interiors catalogue than a furniture store. Pricing is very discrete (something which is very uncommon in the furniture industry), there’s a beautiful rooftop restaurant and a cafe / bar in-store you can stop by as you browse. For the first time ever, Restoration Hardware has embedded their own in-house interior design firm, adding yet another exciting element to the retail experience. There’s even a soon-to-be hotel opening up down the road.
The gold stand in furniture retailing (or any other retailing for that matter).
These are only our top 5, but there’s a lot more stores we loved that didn’t make the list. Contact us for a full New York retail guide or alternatively, register your interest (firstname.lastname@example.org) for our annual NRF Big Show retail tour. But be quick as there’s only a few spaces left.