If you're one of the thousands of retail mavens who descended upon New York City for the National Retail Federation's Big Show 2018, your schedule was likely chock-full of meetings, panels and speaking engagements. But New York City is home to some of the world's most interesting experimental store concepts, and there's as much to learn from walking through their doors as in any meeting room, any time of year.
So anytime you're in Manhattan, take some time to check out these new concept and flagship stores:
Address: Soho: 611 Broadway, Suite 401
Bryant Park: 130 W 42nd St, 22nd Floor
The e-commerce darling known for shipping curated boxes of women's workwear to customer homes has two showrooms in the city worth an inside look. The store is all about service. Customers book appointments in advance and arrive to find pre-pulled items in a "curated closet" according to style and size preferences. Customers are offered a glass of champagne while they talk about options with stylists and leave the store empty handed, having only to wait for purchased items to arrive at their doorstep.
Address: 251 Centre St.
"This store is a total physical embodiment of the brand. It's fresh, uncomplicated, and relatable. Walking in, you get the brand instantly, the layout is concise and product is color-merchandized for ease of shopping," Katie Smith, retail analysis and insights director at EDITED, told Retail Dive in an email.
Address: 640 5th Avenue
Opened just a month ago in December 2017, the new appliance flagship demo store is a clear example of a brand engaging with its customers in an educational and experiential way. Shoppers can test out the Dyson supersonic hairdryer, the company's foray into the beauty space; and the Dyson V8 vacuum, among other high-tech products.
Address: 75 Rockefeller Plaza
The 40,000 square-foot flagship, unveiled in November 2017, features interactive experiences like party options in the café, a content hub showing the company's videos and a Girl-and-Doll Salon, where girls can book appointments with their dolls for hairstyling, ear piercing and manicures. It also features a design studio, where customers can customize their dolls and outfits, and select girl-sized products for themselves.
Address: 70 Wooster St.
The adult entertainment website debuted its first retail store in the SoHo district on Black Friday. The space is designed to simulate the look and feel of the Pornhub homepage, including a bed inside where people are invited to sit and interact with the camera on a live-feed streaming onto Pornhub.com directly. But overall, the emphasis is on clothes, including limited reissued garments from Pornhub’s recent sold out capsule collection with streetwear brand Richardson and other limited edition specially-branded Pornhub garments.
Sephora beauty TIP workshop
Address: 112 West 34th St.
Opened in April 2017, the store emphasizes beauty services and classes for a more experiential visit that lets shoppers experiment and play with products. Shoppers can get a 15 minute touch-up, 45 minute makeover or 90 minute customized consultation. Classes range from how to contour and highlight to how to identify the right skin care solutions. These concept shops are heralded as a leader in forward-looking experiential retail store concepts.
Address: 144 10th Ave.
"This store changes its entire concept every few months, and the entire assortment switches to match the latest theme. Events align. Every time the customer goes back, there's an entirely different experience, which is how destination retail should be," Smith said.
Address: 7 W 34th St.
As one of Amazon's 13 physical bookstore locations, the store offers well-lit shelves of physical books as well as demos of devices such as Echos, the Fire TV, e-readers and tech-enhanced toys. A look inside gives shoppers an idea of how Amazon views physical retail and its connection to its online marketplace.
Address: 28 Prince St.
This is the first of two physical locations for the e-commerce darling, which once promised it would sooner fold operations before going brick and mortar. The new store, opened in December 2017, features T-shirts, cashmere, denim and shoes from a brand focused on transparency in its supply chain.
Canal Street Market
Address: 265 Canal St.
"This hits the nail on the head for how consumers want to hang out right now. It fuses market-style food vendors and coffee shops, in a stylish environment, with carefully curated selection of products across homewares, beauty, accessories and apparel. It's not gendered, there's space to hang out, read and work," Smith said.
Address: 151 W 34th St., Herald Square
This high-tech, high-touch showroom is located inside Macy’s Herald Square and is focused on emphasizing the brands it curates. The shop-in-shop concept is designed to fit in nearly any retail store and it employs highly trained store associates that know brands as well as the manufacturers, allowing them to engage with customers at a higher level.
Lululemon meditation studio
Address: 597 5th Ave., Midtown
Opened in July, the concept space is nestled in an 8,000-square-foot store. The area aims to immerse customers in the community of Lululemon, offering an experience over a specific purchase. The store offers "zen pods" as well as a list of self-guided meditations.
Address: 123 Lafayette St.
As one of the most disruptive beauty brands, a look inside the e-commerce brand's only physical location, opened November 2017, offers a theater-inspired experience. The store features the brand's entire line of skincare and makeup products as well as interactive mirrors and a unique fragrance experience.
The Oculus - Westfield World Trade Center
Address: 185 Greenwich St.
Opened the summer of 2016, the artsy 350,000 square-foot structure houses the largest mall to open in Manhattan and features over 100 retail stores. The location is often home to pop-up concerts and experiential retail concept locations.
Address: 137 Grand St., Brooklyn
"This is a great store in Brooklyn that opened last year. It aims to provide everything a consumer needs to [lead] a low waste lifestyle. It's the physical outpost for popular blog 'Trash is for Tossers'. I love the store because it creates a destination for learning about, and joining, what was once a subculture but is now a growing consumer movement," Smith said.