- Apparel company M.M.LaFleur on Thursday is opening its first concept store, M.M. To Go, according to information sent to Retail Dive by the company. The store is located in Brookfield Place in Manhattan's Financial District in New York City.
- Unlike at the retailer's showroom spaces, customers can take purchases out of the store versus waiting for items to be shipped. "Also while most M.M. locations do accept walk-ins, for M.M. To Go there are no appointments," a company spokesperson stated.
- A selection of work apparel items that are wrinkle-resistant and "almost all machine-washable" will be available for purchase. Customers can also return and exchange items at the location.
M.M.LaFleur was once known solely as an e-commerce apparel styling service and retailer. Then it moved into showrooming experiences where shoppers could book styling appointments. Now, in 512 square feet, the company is moving into a small-format space that operates like traditional retail by selling clothes that can be bought off the rack and brought home.
The new concept features 10 core apparel items in sizes 0 to 22 (with inventory adjusted slightly due to seasonality) and is focused on problem solving. "Spilled coffee on your blouse? Need a blazer for a last-minute client meeting? M.M. To Go will have work-wardrobe essentials on hand," the promotional materials read. That could be a winning strategic move based on its location in the Financial District.
Retail in general is experimenting with smaller formats. Commercial real estate firm JLL put out a report at the end of last year that stated that retail vacancies are growing and store concepts are shrinking in square footage.
"[C]onsumer preferences have shifted over the last few years to brands that offer personalized experiences. These emerging brands tend to prefer smaller footprints — leaving larger floorplates empty where stores like Fred Segal and Lord & Taylor once existed," the report stated.
And it's not just direct-to-consumer companies that are easing into tiny spaces. Target announced this summer that it is opening three small-format stores near college campuses and is planning on opening 30 additional locations in areas where traditional Target stores may not fit. Amazon is reportedly experimenting with shrinking the size of its Go stores with the objective of being placed inside office lobbies and hospitals. Even Ikea, known for its massive warehouse-style stores, is shrinking down with its new Planning Studio space in Manhattan in order to better serve an urban audience.
"We're seeing this as a test — the hope is to be able to open similar stores in more markets in the future," said Caroline Brown, M.M.LaFleur's associate director of experiential design, in an email to Retail Dive.