Lids this month opened the doors to a new store concept in New York City's Times Square, the first of a nationwide planned rollout. The new layout, with a clear discovery path emphasizing Lids' key differentiators — its massive offering and product personalization opportunities — is aimed at core customers preoccupied with both fandom and fashion, the company said in a press release.
Customers can browse a digital library of customization options, including names, numbers, quotes, phrases or images, to create their own hat within minutes, and can watch the embroidery machine stitch their new hats, the company said. The new store also offers an EmbroidiGraph option featuring pro athletes' autographs.
Pedestal fixtures showcase styles exclusive to the headwear retailer, including recent launches from New Era, '47 and Nike, and much of the offering has been pulled off the wall for better presentation. New digital messaging towers and screens show fresh styles, perks and promotions, while a wall at the cash wrap displays online orders, making it easier for customers to pick up and check out.
Times Square is one of the busiest plazas in the world, hosting 383,902 average daily visitors this year in April alone, many of them tourists primed to spend their money.
That makes it an ideal retail center, and several retailers have joined Lids lately in establishing new or renovated outposts there. Coty chose Times Square for its first Covergirl location, calling it "an experiential interpretation" of the brand's new "I am what I make up" marketing campaign. Levi's is also opening a flagship there later this year, capitalizing on one of its best years in a long time. And H&M chose its Times Square location as a testing ground for the company's new "Voice Interactive Mirrors."
Now Lids is there, testing out a new store design that Sports Group CEO David Baxter said in a statement "represents the next era of Lids [and] the next step in our mission to evolve the customer experience and improve our omni-channel presence overall."
The brand needs the refresh. Lids had a horrendous holiday season, with comparable sales at the hat seller falling 14% during the period, dragging down owner Genesco's overall comps metric. Under activist pressure, Genesco — which also operates Journeys, Schuh and Johnston & Murphy — in February announced that it's exploring the sale of Lids.
The short-term plan is simple: sell the hat retailer and focus on shoes, gaining some needed cash in the process. But, as CL King analyst Steve Marotta noted in February, "the pool of buyers appears relatively limited." If Genesco can find a buyer for Lids, which has more than 1,000 locations worldwide, it could bring in some $250 million, according to Marotta.