Brooklyn-born sneaker brand Greats is opening its first retail store in New York City, in the SoHo shopping district, the company told Retail Dive. The new location follows the opening of its first store in Los Angeles earlier this year and a deal to sell in more than 20 Nordstrom stores.
The New York store will "feel more like a showroom than a shoe store," with exclusive products and regular events, among other features, a spokesperson said in an email. Greats CEO and co-founder Ryan Babenzien turned to his friend, architect and DIY guru Ben Uyeda to design and build both spaces with his signature fantastical plywood elements, the company said.
The move marks yet another milestone in the booming sneaker industry and follows trends laid out by experts like Matt Powell, NPD group vice president and senior industry advisor of sports, who noted in his latest blog post, "Today’s consumer wants unique products, made by unique brands and sold in unique retailers."
Sneakerheads, with their preference for streetwear, are looming ever larger in sports footwear sales. On the performance side, running shoe sales fell 7%, and training sales declined 15%, while leisure styles grew 17% and captured $9.6 billion in sales in 2017, according to another report NPD Group.
That's leading several retailers and brands to jump in. Zappos, for example, unveiled a retail concept last year highlighting classic sneakers, with a dedicated website landing page and pop-ups in New York. Also last year, Lululemon launched three sneaker styles with Athletic Propulsion Labs, and Adidas reclaimed the number two spot among the three big players in part thanks to its focus on urban aesthetics and streetwear.
More recently, LVMH Luxury Ventures, an arm of luxury conglomerate LVMH established a year ago to invest in small fashion companies, told Retail Dive that it's investing an undisclosed amount in sneaker and apparel marketplace Stadium Goods. That move shortly followed that of digital sneaker marketplace GOAT's announced merger with sneaker consignment retailer Flight Club along with new investment. Online sneaker marketplace StockX a year ago also attracted $6 million in funding from an array of celebrity investors.
"A lot has been written about improving the customer 'experience' in sports retail," Powell said Thursday. "No one would argue the importance of great customer experience. But experience can mean different things to different people, and even different things to the same person depending on circumstances."
That includes, in addition to flashy displays and elevated merchandise, more mundane details like removing pain points like checkout lines, he said. Greats is addressing that by providing store staff with mobile checkout, and Uyeda builds in custom drawers to his modernist pillars to accommodate those devices, the company said.