NEW YORK — Brooke Richman in August will unveil Coop & Spree, a 1,000-square-foot store at 202 Elizabeth Street here. The new retail concept — it has nothing to do with poultry, as its name suggests — will be focused on contemporary women’s apparel and accessories with special services and lots of digital bells and whistles.
Richman, 27, didn’t start out wanting to be a retailer. The University of Pennsylvania graduate got her first job in the analyst sales and training program at Citi, but soon realized she wanted to work in fashion.
Drawing on the internships she had at Penn — stints with Stuart Weitzman and IMG Fashion — she got a job at Theory as a men’s wear buyer, ultimately moving to women’s wear. “I realized I wanted to work for myself with multiple brands,” she said. “I love interacting with customers. I wanted to open my own store.”
Richman felt she needed a stronger business background, so she enrolled at Columbia Business School. Graduating in May 2013 with an M.B.A. focusing on retail and entrepreneurship, she wrote the business plan for Coop & Spree during school as an independent study project. Andrew Rosen, Theory’s cofounder, who was the keynote speaker at the Retail & Luxury Goods Club conference last year that she chaired, became a mentor, advising her on everything from real estate to the company’s name. Rosen told Richman not to make the name gender specific in case she wanted to sell men’s wear one day.
Coop and Spree are the names of two family dogs from Richman’s childhood.
She is targeting a 21- to 35-year-old Millennial customer and her aspirational mom with brands such as Helmut Lang, Alice + Olivia, Milly, 10 Crosby Derek Lam, Cut25, Doma, Hudson, Kain, La Cage, Rebecca Tailor, Torn, Unreal Fur, AG jeans, Sachin + Babi and Nonoo. There are also emerging designers “you can’t find in brick-and-mortar stores,” said Richman. For example, French label American Retro was found on Instagram along with 3X1 denim and EF, delicate jewelry with tiny diamonds.
“Designers have ample e-commerce distribution and are interested in brick-and-mortar stores,” Richman said.
“People want to find new things and explore in NoLIta,” she added. “Ron Herman and Madison in Los Angeles are the aesthetic I’m going for.”
Services key to Richman’s concept will include same-day delivery in Manhattan and a stylist in residence, who will be available by appointment. Closet consultations and packing services will also be offered. Richman said the fee for the services will probably cost about $100 an hour.
Richman, who wants to infuse the brick-and-mortar experience with digital technology, will be using custom software that will include a styling tool and a catalogue of inventory. Tablets found throughout the store will be used for clienteling. Customers will be able to snap themselves in the photo booth and then send pictures to friends via social media or stream the photos to their Twitter accounts. Photos can also be posted on the store’s inspiration board. “We’ll pick the most stylish customer of the week to engage our users,” Richman said. “We want an interactive, entertaining environment.”