Another online pure play is making the leap to physical retail.
BaubleBar on Saturday will open a 1,500-square-foot store at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for four years,” said BaubleBar cofounder Amy Jain. “Since Day One, we believed in having an off-line component to our business.”
BaubleBar is not a complete neophyte, however. It’s been testing pop-up shops and in-store shops and is involved in partnerships with Nordstrom, Anthropologie and Bloomingdale’s.
Opening a physical store will accelerate brand-building, Jain said. “It’s a great way for us to be able to meet the customer and communicate how important she is to us,” she added.
Like online brethren Bonobos and Warby Parker, BaubleBar comes armed with data and analytics about customers in the Tristate area.
“We have a built-in customer base,” said Jain. “We have a lot of information from that geographical area. We understand the customer, what she likes. When she visits the store, she’ll feel like we created it just for her.”
Translating BaubleBar’s colorful, lighthearted ethos into the store’s design “was the easy part,” Jain said. “We have the color, the fun and the winks. The most challenging hurdle was trying to figure out how to replicate the inventory model. We introduce 50 to 75 styles to the e-commerce site every week. We’ve been building our operations and figuring the logistics for a retail format.”
Simon Property Group, which operates Roosevelt Field, is hungry for new retail concepts to differentiate its properties — as are all shopping centers. It identified a group of executives to help pure plays make the transition to the brick-and-mortar world. “We created a business development group to help brands grow,” said Eric Sadi, senior vice president of leasing at Simon. “This is a new initiative for us.”
“Simon helped us think through the economics,” Jain said.
“Pure plays are realizing that it’s great to create revenue online, but to create an identity and full omnichannel experience, you need a physical presence,” said Sadi. “We want to make the experience seamless. We really babied them to make sure the smallest details” were correct.
Sadi said Simon could “roll out 20 [BaubleBar stores] and deploy them quickly. BaubleBar is largely scalable. There will be a lot of penetration throughout our portfolio. Accessories always do really well.”
Jain said BaubleBar would entertain opening additional stores in Simon properties. “We believe in the mall format for certain geographies, if Simon has properties in the markets we want to be in,” she said. “We’re not going to be a one-size-fits-all company. It’s market- and geography-specific.”
Sadi has been canvassing Brooklyn and looking in San Francisco and Chicago for new retail concepts. “Birchbox has a unique model with its subscription service,” he said. “That category is extraordinarily hot right now.” Sadi also likes Jins, a Japanese eyewear retailer. “I love Bonobos,” Sadi said. “They’re still growing their guide-shop model. I also like Union Station, an online bridesmaid dress rental Web site.”