It's been another weird week in retail. The last Blockbuster store rents itself for customer sleepovers, Sour Patch Kids opens an experiential store in New York and Forever 21 drops new merchandise in collaboration with 7-Eleven.
This, and more, in this week's retail therapy.
Blockbuster's slumber party
For many, the local Blockbuster store was just part of a Friday night. The endless aisles of movie titles, vivid displays of popcorn and cotton candy by the checkout and the loud grumble of someone arguing with an employee over late fees are still ingrained into the brains of an entire generation.
People from all over the world have made the journey to Bend to see this small, preserved piece of history. And for a limited time, the residents of Deschutes County (where Bend is located) have the opportunity to experience the store in a way never seen before.
The Blockbuster Twitter account, which until this week hadn't been active since 2014, teased that something could be on the horizon. Then after some back and forth with the Airbnb account, the news was finally revealed.
you up @blockbuster?— Airbnb (@Airbnb) August 11, 2020
Just checking in. ????— Blockbuster (@blockbuster) August 11, 2020
The Bend store recently posted a listing on Airbnb that invites customers to stay at the store for a night. Our '90s dreams are finally becoming a reality.
"Over the past few months, we've been missing the regular visits from friends, neighbors and tourists from around the world," the post read. "So, we're opening our store to three quarantine pods of Deschutes County guests for a socially-distanced movie night, just like those of decades past!"
For just three nights — Sept. 18 through Sept. 20 — the retailer will hand its keys over to guests, granting them access to the entire store. The listing said the cost per night is just $4 (!!) and goes live for booking on Monday at 1 p.m. PST.
And because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, the retailer noted that not only will the space be cleaned prior to guests' arrival in accordance with Airbnb's Enhanced Cleaning Protocol, but the store will also supply guests with disinfectant wipes, a pack of face coverings and "endless hand sanitizer."
"Whether you want to stay up until sunrise or pass out on the couch, we've created the perfect space complete with a pull-out couch, bean bags and pillows for you to cozy up with 'new releases' from the '90s. Crack open a two-liter of Pepsi before locking into a video game, charting your future in a game of MASH, or watching movie after movie."
For those unable to snag one of the coveted spots, the retailer said individuals can visit the setup during store hours for a limited time. This is the good news we've been waiting all 2020 for.
With perfect timing, Sour Patch Kids opens first store
The purpose of a store has been challenged in recent years. No longer is it simply about making a transaction. Brands, especially direct-to-consumer brands are using physical space to connect with their customers on a more personal level and create experiences that will stick with them.
Canada Goose created a cold room where consumers can test out its products, Puma installed an in-store soccer simulator to test out its cleats and Petco, in partnership with JustFoodForDogs, built a pet food kitchen in its Manhattan store. While some concepts provide product testing utility, it seems retailers will do just about anything to show up the competition and differentiate themselves.
This week, Sour Patch Kids and specialty candy retailer IT'SUGAR unveiled its first store in New York City.
The store features limited-edition merchandise and a place for customers to create their own special mix of candy. The best part? A Sweets Bar where guests can order smoothies, ice cream, cookies and more with a Sour Patch Kids twist.
The store sounds like a kids' (and, who are we kidding, adults') dream. Except for one thing: The world is in the midst of a pandemic.
While many nonessential retailers have been able to reopen stores under new guidelines and cleaning protocols, some consumers remain wary of shopping around others.
The company did outline measures it's taking to ensure customer safety, including lowering the maximum capacity and enforcing use of face coverings in store. And the company also noted that this location will be permanent — "no pop-up shop here."
So while customers may be wary of visiting the high-touch, experiential store in the middle of a global health crisis, all hope is not lost. That is, if it can keep its doors open long enough to greet the post-pandemic consumer.
Forever 21 drops 7-Eleven collection
Forever 21 has been known to push the boundaries of what can be considered fashion. It released collections inspired by Honda, the U.S. Postal Service and Cheetos (yes, a whole swath of pieces that took inspiration from a cheezy snack).
But when the fast-fashion retailer filed for bankruptcy last September, our hope for another absurd collection dwindled. Until now.
Forever 21 teamed up with 7-Eleven to roll out new merchandise influenced by the convenience store.
Ranging from $15 to $35, the capsule features 16 pieces, including T-shirts, hoodies and fleeces sure to make "a 'Big Gulp' statement," according to the brand. To coincide with the drop, the two companies are hosting a contest on TikTok and Instagram where fans can enter for a chance to win $100 worth of merchandise.
"For over 90 years, 7-Eleven has been an integral part of American life," Forever 21 Global Creative Director Joanna Choo said in a statement. "It is a modern breathing brand, but also a nostalgic phenomenon for many."
And that may be necessary as Forever 21's new owners Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners try to breathe some life into the retailer that, on top of facing problems associated with selling apparel, is also in a category falling out of favor among socially and environmentally conscious consumers.