Eyewear startup Warby Parker has plans to roll out at least 25 more physical stores this year, The Wall Street Journal reports. A request for comment from Retail Dive was not immediately returned.
The company recently opened a location in Palo Alto, CA, another will open this week in Philadelphia and there are plans for stores in Miami, Los Angeles and elsewhere, according to the report. There are already 41 Warby Parker stores in the U.S. and two in Canada.
Warby Parker logs sales of some $3,000 per square foot of retail space, which Fast Company magazine compared in 2015 to Tiffany’s estimated $3,043.
The story of physical retail being told these days is mostly about how it is or should be shrinking, but retailers like Warby Parker and Bonobos have been expanding their brick-and-mortar ambitions after discovering that physical stores are a boon to customer relationships and sales.
“I don’t think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead,” Warby Parker co-founder and co-chief executive Neil Blumenthal told The Wall Street Journal. “While e-commerce has been growing, the majority of retail still happens within four walls.” Blumenthal has previously said the prescription eyeglasses retailer might one day operate 800 to 1,000 physical stores.
Warby Parker, Bonobos and Casper Mattress were noted in a report last year from L2 and Simon Property Group, entitled “Death of PurePlay Retail,” as pure-play e-commerce ventures that are leveraging new rounds of investment funding to open stores.
Physical stores, and malls (their much maligned partners in retail), continue to experience growth in sales per square foot, according to that report. Also last year, Moody’s Investment Service found that retailers like Best Buy with successful omnichannel operations see e-commerce sales boosted from zip codes that include physical locations. For that reason, Moody’s has cautioned retailers to be “tactical” about closing stores, taking into account the effect on e-commerce sales.
Warby Parker, a private company, doesn’t disclose revenue figures or its state of profitability, but it was added in 2015 to Fortune’s list of “unicorns,” private companies that have reached a valuation of $1 billion or more. At the time, the company had a valuation of $1.2 billion, and although it wasn't yet profitable, the company said its sales were growing each year.