Next month, college and dorm supplies e-retailer Dormify is planning a series of pop-ups, or "Style Studios," in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C. area slated to open between May 1 and May 15, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The company has tapped college students and recent grads, available by appointment or by walking in, to serve as stylists, according to the press release. They’ll be on hand at each location for advice on decorating a dorm room or apartment, using real beds, desks and walls to demonstrate different looks.
Items can be ordered at the pop-up for delivery, and the company will also offer an option to ship at a later date, for students who haven’t yet arrived on campus.
Much of the growth in back-to-school retail sales in recent years has been in the college and dorm-room supplies business rather than in apparel and supplies for younger kids, and Dormify’s stylish, yet affordable curation approach takes full advantage of that.
Home goods and furniture sales in general are flourishing, thanks to a generally healthy economy, low unemployment and a robust housing market — supported by many consumers’ perception that spending in the category is an investment in their living spaces more than a splurge.
Dormify launched six years ago after a discouraging mother-daughter shopping trip for dorm room supplies. Co-founders Karen and Amanda Zuckerman "quickly realized that there wasn’t much to offer that was both affordable and stylish" and set out to make Dormify a destination for chic dorm room and apartment décor, in part, they say, by simplifying the experience with styled, shoppable looks online.
With the pop-ups, Dormify is just the latest online retailer to seek out at least temporary digs in real life. Its first brick-and-mortar effort was a partnership with Macy's.
But the booming market has many retailers taking steps to compete in that space, giving online upstarts like Dormify plenty of competition. Walmart, Target and Amazon in recent months have all initiated and/or revamped their home essentials assortment. With the purchase of home goods catalog The Company Store last year, The Home Depot also got into the game. TJX has also doubled down on its successful Home Goods unit with a new banner, HomeSense, rolling out nationwide. Meanwhile, Wayfair's sales are growing pretty fast, although profits continue to grow.