Of Specialty Shops and Pop-Ups

Thursday, June 18, 2009

photo via Racked

Yesterday the lovely Alexis over at J.Crew Aficionada ran a post about J.Crew's new accessories room at their Prince St (Soho/NYC) store. I've barely stepped foot in J.Crew this season because the clothes have been so sadly boring but this marketing ploy worked. I swung by yesterday to see what all the fuss was about. And I must say the room was set up nicely although it was a bit tight to navigate.

At the risk of sounding monkey-see-monkey-do, I would love to see Anthropologie do something like this. Really J.Crew's room isn't groundbreaking anyway; this is something Forever 21 discovered last year in their NYC locations and boutiques have been doing for years. What I do applaud about making the move now is two-fold: first, J.Crew gets items that are normally online/catalogue only into the store just like they did with their Madison Ave collection store; and second, they're diversifying their product offerings in a down economy and publicizing it to draw in finicky costumers like me.

Just a short 5 minute walk west from that Prince St store is Anthropologie's Soho location. I stop in at least 4 times a month. I believe this is the smallest of their 3 NYC locations and while they carry a range of the wide variety of items that Anthro sells anything that isn't clothing is slim pickings. They have "selected shoes." They have some jewelry. They have a few bedding choices and admittedly a pretty good home selection.

Normally when I shop I plan out my purchases from the online store and then head to the brick & mortar version. And while Anthropologie successfully draws out the impulse shopper in me it's still disappointing when an item online isn't available in-store. For clothing usually patience pays off and the item makes it in eventually. But shoes, jewelry and accessories are never guaranteed to make it in. So items I would buy come and go because the shipping costs stop me from pulling the trigger. The current free shipping promotion helps. I have bigger ideas though!

It would be great to see Anthro open a home store version of themselves but somehow I don't see them doing that in this economy. There are other options. For example, right now in NYC pop-up stores are all the rage. A well-known brand will rent a store-front for a month or so and offer a specialty selection of a larger line. Most people wouldn't admit to shopping at Target (unless you call it Tar-jay) but when the red target opened a pop-up store for 2 weeks all of a sudden people were willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly laundry detergent.

I'd love to see Anthro open an accessories pop-up store in Manhattan. Smaller store footprint overall but with a wider selection of shoes, adornments and accessories than what the 3 locations currently offer. No clothing. Just more hats. More scarves. More shoes. And for the love of everything holy more bags please! This idea could easily translate across the country or at least into urban areas. It plays into the current shopping zeitgeist: I can shop my closet for clothes...but maybe I'll buy a new scarf to show versatility. Or a new pair of shoes. Or a great new bag.

Am I off my rocker? Or would you stop in to an Anthro Adornments pop-up?