Thursday, June 18, 2009

Of Specialty Shops and Pop-Ups

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?


Blondmoma said...

This is when I wish I lived in New York. The burbs of Chicago just doesn't cut it. Yes, I would definately shop a pop up store.

Anthro Employee said...

Just a note: The Anthropologie stores and catalog/internet are actually two separate entities, which is why some things aren't available in store or vice versa. If we're going to get something in store, there can be up to a two week lag time before what you see online arrives in the store. The good news for New York shoppers is that when something is only available in "select stores," there's a good chance that at least one of the three NYC locations will have it. Also, if you'd like to know if your particular Anthropologie location has an item you'd like in your size, you can call the catalog and they'll tell you which stores have it in stock, instead of you having to call each individual store directly.

Anonymous said...

i definitely second that notion, particularly after the decline of, and final shuttering of otto tootsie plohound. i can't find any good shoes unless i look online! bring me more anthropologie shoes.

jacquelyn said...

Roxy, consider yourself lucky! My one local store does not carry shoes at all. Ihave to go to Scottsdale to find a store that has select shoes (a two hour drive). I wish my store carried shoes because it is always such a gamble to buy them online, especially when you have to pay shipping.

My local store is really small and only carries a small size run and product run. I almost always have to purchase online and return in store. I do more in-store returns than purchases.

roxy said...

I admit I'm pretty spoiled living in NYC. =) It's geographic discrimination.

Anthro Employee - thank you for sharing the insider take! I'm sure I will take advantage of the call-in tip in the near future.

tastymoog said...

I've found anthro stores to be really unpredictable. Some are three floors, some are the size of a room and have barely any clothes but mostly accessories. I've only been to maybe 6 different stores but only 2 of them seemed similar in size and product.

kater said...

I would definitely go to an anthro home store!! I'm lucky in the sense that the local stores here (DC) have a pretty good home selection, but would love to see a stand alone store. One can only take so much pottery barn!

This is OT, but roxy and others - is there a method to the anthro website like there is to jcrew (markdowns typically on weds, restocks in the morning, the inventory trick, etc.)? I'm loving anthro more and more lately, and would love some tips on how to tell if things are selling out, when markdowns usually happen, when (and if) popbacks occur, etc.


val said...
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Alexis said...

I would love to see a special accessories Anthropologie store. They have so many lovely pieces in the store, but its usually in a small section. :)

Also, thanks Anthro Employee for clarifying that the store/internet are two separate divisions of the company- I didn't know that. :)