“We are going to look to try to modify the format so that it serves the need of the community and an opportunity, but we also want to be careful not to create so many more formats that we can’t execute flawlessly,” Tony Spring, Bloomingdale’s chief executive officer, told WWD. “Our objective is to find that right balance between what people are looking for and what we can do well.”
The new, 22,000-square-foot Bloomie’s, located in the Mosaic District lifestyle center in Fairfax, Va., has what Spring described as a “highly curated” assortment of contemporary and luxury brands, services, tech-enabled stylists, new store design concepts and a restaurant called Colada. The focus is on being fun, casual and convenient, he said.
When it comes to the home, “this store only has home giftables. Its focus is more on home fragrance and fun novelty items for gift giving for the fourth quarter. It’s possible that the Bloomie’s of the future could have a home component to it,” Spring said.
The Bloomie’s name isn’t actually new — a small airport Bloomie’s shop operated briefly in the late ’80s at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Spring discounted the possibility of reviving that concept, especially considering the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.
Decades ago, there was Bloomie’s women’s novelty underwear, which caught on for awhile, so in conjunction with the opening of the first Bloomie’s store, the Bloomie’s brand — including the undies — has been relaunched.
The inaugural collection has a total of 35 fashion and novelty pieces, including varsity jackets, socks, T-shirts, hoodies, combat boots, totes, chargers, pencil sets and a special edition Zippo lighter. Each season, there will be two drops, including limited-edition collaborations with every collection.
“It’s clever, fashionable and whimsical,” said Spring, adding that the Bloomie’s brand will be sold at Bloomie’s, on bloomingdales.com and at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship. “We think there is a bigger opportunity for some of the Bloomie’s product in more locations in the fourth quarter,” Spring said.
“What we found in some of the focus group testing was that Bloomie’s is a term of endearment for people who have known Bloomingdale’s for awhile and that it’s also an easier way for people who don’t know Bloomingdale’s to get connected to the brand. We think it’s a dual-purpose objective. We are a multigenerational store. You’ve got the advantage of people who have shopped us for years and we are also welcoming lots of new, younger consumers on bloomingdales.com. Bloomie’s is a chance to connect with this next generation of shoppers.”
The Bloomie’s specialty store is small compared to Bloomingdale’s department stores, which average 150,000 to 200,000 square feet (excluding the flagship, which is about 600,000 square feet). Bloomingdale’s SoHo, at 78,000 square feet of selling, is the upscale chain’s second smallest store, and Bloomingdales’s outlets average 25,000 square feet.
Bloomie’s has a total workforce of 30 in sales, alterations, management and operations.
While Bloomie’s in the Mosaic District is a drop in the bucket relative to Bloomingdale’s overall business, which is around $3 billion in volume pre-pandemic, it’s still significant when considering Bloomingdale’s limited footprint, according to Spring — particularly compared to Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Belk, Kohl’s and Macy’s, which, like Bloomingdale’s, is part of Macy’s Inc. “Our portfolio is smaller,” Spring said. “You start with our 33 full-line [department] stores so each one is meaningful to the total coverage of the country.”
The modest store count also means there’s opportunity to build a larger portfolio and “think and act locally.…This is the first Bloomie’s, but hopefully not the last and as we learn from this experience. We’ll figure out where else in the country we have opportunity for additional locations,” Spring said.
Bloomingdale’s also has about 20 outlets and is opening more.
Asked if Bloomie’s at this point is a test, Spring replied, “It’s a pilot. A test implies you might not go forward. A pilot is where you are trying to figure out what resonates most. We’ve got a lot of fun elements customers will enjoy, but obviously, we’ll learn from what we do in Mosaic and then we will adapt that to future locations. We are always looking for locations. I think we are going to hopefully find a combination of off-mall locations to complement the strength of the on-mall locations we currently have, as well as look for locations that provide a level of convenience for the customer that might be where we have a strong digital business online but don’t have physical locations, or a physical location that might be closer to where a disproportionate number of our customers live.”
Referencing Bloomie’s in the Mosaic District specifically, he continued that “the alterations and modifications to the execution will be what determine how quickly we go and what the next location looks like. We are going to take the appropriate time to test and iterate and obviously adopt. You are looking at a six- to 12-month time horizon.”
The offering is a mix of designer, luxury and emerging labels in men’s and women’s fashion, as well as activewear, intimates, shoes, handbags, beauty, accessories, fine jewelry and cosmetics. Women’s apparel brands include Ganni, Staud, Maje, Rag & Bone, Cult Gaia, Jonathan Simkhai Standard, LoveShackFancy, Moussy, Mother, Frame, Re/Done and Aqua, among others.
Women’s shoes include brands like Jimmy Choo, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Birkenstock and Golden Goose, while handbags include Mansur Gavriel, Marc Jacobs and See by Chloé. In addition to sneakers, there’s activewear from Adidas by Stella McCartney, Alo Yoga, Koral, Y-3 and Nike. Cosmetic, skin care and fragrance offerings will include La Mer, Dior, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Sunday Riley, Byredo, Diptyque, Creed and Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
“The dynamic of our brand is one where we are attracting an affluent consumer, but the content of the store is going to be both accessible as well as aspirational,” Spring said.
Among the Bloomie’s services, there’s a returns dropbox; buy online and pick-up in-store; curbside pickup; a desk for personalization, customization and alterations; a Bloomie’s van for deliveries, and stylists who make house calls. Also, the stylists are technology-empowered so they can communicate better with shoppers and access inventory from Bloomingdale’s stores if customers don’t find what they want at Bloomie’s.
Asked if people want a smaller box to shop in, Spring replied, “I think they want a curated assortment. From Bloomingdale’s, they’re looking for a point of view and a sense of style and through the assortment and the stylists we want to make sure we are providing an experience that feels like it’s worth the visit. That it’s not a chore. It’s a hobby. It’s an extension of your lifestyle.”