West Elm on Tuesday announced it is expanding collaborations with designers and artists to some locations with "West Elm Local Experiences," launching in five cities (Austin, TX; Brooklyn, NY; Charleston, SC; Detroit; and Savannah, GA) with some goods for sale online, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The partnerships include artist workshops, and will build on West Elm’s existing program, which works with more than 1,000 makers, designers and artists to offer their work at 100 West Elm stores.
The cost of a session starts at $130 and, starting Tuesday, people can sign up for workshops scheduled from April through May in the artists’ studios.
West Elm began working with community-based artists in 2013, giving many of its locations a local flair. The retailer has expanded that effort to hotels, too, with locally produced art decorating lobbies and rooms.
The success of that effort led the company to expand to experiences, which include the opportunity to buy paintings, sculpture, textiles and other items found in their stores, Mo Mullen, vice president of Business Development at West Elm, said in a press release.
The program taps into the desire on the part of many consumers, especially younger ones, to spend their time and money on uplifting experiences rather than on buying more things, as documented by Euromonitor and others. Spending on experiences like travel, leisure and food service will rise to $8 trillion by 2030, Euromonitor found last year, noting that retailers can leverage that by offering events that offer authenticity, a sense of community and customization.
The sessions include art welding with Jack Sanders with campfire happy hour and live music in Austin, natural indigo dyeing with Shira Entis in Brooklyn, drawing and a historic walk in Charleston, cutting and tasting trays with Andre Sandifer + Abir Ali at a fire station turned furniture design studio in Detroit, and punch needle textiles with Pamela Wiley in Savannah.