Otter Products, the company behind electronics accessories brand OtterBox, announced last week that it will open a retail store, Otter Shop, in its hometown of Fort Collins, CO, where the company devised its first mobile protection case, in a garage there. The store opens Aug. 11, according to a company press release.
The company is entering brick-and-mortar retail thanks to its expanding product line, the company said in the release. In addition to OtterBox protective cases, mobile accessories, coolers and tumblers, the store will feature products from the company’s sister brand, LifeProof. That includes the company's recently released Aquaphonics line of Bluetooth speakers.
The store will also feature exclusive and customizable products. Additionally, a section of Otter Shop will be dedicated to highlighting the work of the OtterCares Foundation, a private foundation that encourages kids to be entrepreneurial and philanthropic.
Sales per square foot at most retailers have declined in recent years, down from almost $375 in the early part of the 21st century to $325, according to research from CoStar.
And it isn’t just Amazon or e-commerce dragging down the sales-per-square foot metric — its also an over-abundance of stores. The Great Recession helped accelerate a natural correction, experts say. Some experts think that, ultimately, roughly a third of enclosed malls are destined to close.
But brick and mortar continues to be essential in retail — and the source of the vast majority of retail sales. That's why so many previously pure-play online retailers, including Warby Parker, Bonobos and Amazon, have begun opening physical stores.
A desire to touch and see actual merchandise has been particularly important in apparel and electronics, and Otter's move may reflect its recent foray into speakers. Along with an emotional pull, physical stores have also proven to be integral to customer loyalty, returns, fulfillment and — believe it or not — a driver of online sales.
In a statement, Otter Products CEO Jim Parke said the company's first shop will be "more than a store." For sale at the location will be several exclusive product lines, including branded cases with local icons such as Odell Brewing Co. and Colorado State University.
Visitors will be able to print custom cases with their own images or select from a set of patterns. Otter Shop will also feature a 1947 Jeep Willys set in a seasonally updated backdrop, for visitors taking selfies or other photos. The company will also use the space to host to a variety of community events that will also be featured on its Facebook page.
"Otter Shop is ... a retail experience that lets visitors connect with our brands, learn about our company culture and see exclusive products not available in any other store," Parke said.