Brick-and-mortar retail may be struggling, but the savviest brands are figuring out ways to meet customers where they are. Since many equate summer with the great American road trip, accessories brand Miansai is expanding its mobile retail fleet to vacation destinations around the country, including airports.
Founder and creative director Michael Saiger, a vintage auto aficionado, has renovated and remodeled 1949 and 1958 Airstream trailers; 1958 and 1965 Piaggio Ape scooters, and a 1976 Fiat into traveling shops to house his unisex jewelry and accessories.
One Airstream will be stationed at Huntington Beach until Memorial Day, then heads to Newport, R.I., and New York for fashion week in September and back to the West Coast for the winter holidays. Another airstream will hit Montauk in mid-June followed by Palm Beach in the winter. The Fiat will be stationed in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn from mid-June until August, then at Grand Central Station until December. For those who will be jetting off to more exotic locales, the Piaggios will be at the Tom Bradlee terminal at Los Angeles International airport, Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy International airport and Miami International airports from July until mid-August. Fans of the brand can follow the 2017 tour on miansai.com and on social media using #MiansaiMoves.
“The Airstream came to life in 2012 before we had retail locations in New York and California. It started as a great way for us to get experience with retail without the huge investment of a brick-and-mortar location,” said Saiger, who customized the interiors to harmonize with the brand’s nautical theme, including custom-made solid walnut furniture and antique light fixtures. The trailers have gone to key events such as Coachella and the South by Southwest festivals.
“We can curate the merchandise to different markets, from backyards to urban spaces, and we can pick up and move if it’s not doing well. Plus, it’s only one or two employees,” he said of being nimble.
In 2015, sales per square foot in the 100-square-foot trailer were comparable to those in his 1,000-square-foot Abbot Kinney store, and since then, the mobile sales have outperformed brick-and-mortar by 30 percent year-over-year.
New York native Saiger founded the brand in 2012 after graduating from University of Miami to fill the niche of accessible, well-designed jewelry for men. The anchor bracelet has expanded into a full men’s line, women’s and fine jewelry, and leather bags that wholesale in 40 countries and 400 doors worldwide.
In the summer, Saiger plans to take his American-made vehicles to Europe to sell at Pitti Uomo, the south of France and Berlin. As for brand extensions, those are far down the line, but he said one day he may do sunglasses and home goods.