By  on September 18, 2008

It is as much a part of the mall landscape as the pretzel vendor in the food court and the fountain lined with pennies: the in-store shop — that distinct square of space in a department store that is all one company’s own, right down to the light fixtures and furniture, the soundtrack and staff uniforms. Few know that the concept was pioneered by Esprit co-founder Doug Tompkins, who in 1986 envisioned a world-within-a-world for his business, specifically, the Esprit brand inside Macy’s.

“Doug was a real stickler for design principles — everything from labels, the garments, the hangtags, bags, boxes. Everything was about controlling the brand,” explained Jerome Griffith, Esprit’s North America president. Opening that year on the fifth floor in the juniors department at Macy’s in San Francisco, Esprit’s home base, the Esprit shop-in-shop launched a global retail concept that, as Griffith related, “is still one of the great business models out there.”

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