NEW YORK — Crest & Co., the e-commerce destination for the one percent, will move into physical retail for the first time this week — in case consumers were growing weary of buying Lalique and Jean-Michel Jarre’s $25,000, limited-edition speaker system online.
Crest & Co. is the latest online venture to set up shop in the offline world — and from Saturday through New Year’s Eve, a pop-up shop will inhabit the front portion of Turnbull & Asser, located on 57th Street here.
Accessories, leather goods, objects for the home and collectible items from 14 brands will be carried in the pop-up. Several of the brands are being shown in the U.S. for the first time, including leather goods from La Contrie, Rutherfords of England, Böle, Atelier Renard and Tärnsjö (which used to produce leather for Hermès and Louis Vuitton). The Lalique speaker system is the most expensive item, but there are approachably priced things in the mix, including a leather cardholder that costs $150.
Crest & Co. founder Nima Abbasi promised that the products are “manly but superbeautiful” — and are sure to hit the needs and interests of a man, such as drinking (decanters and tumblers) and smoking (cigar-related accessories).
“The idea is to have a physical presence during a time and a place that make sense versus a permanent something somewhere,” Abbasi said, adding that the pop-up is the first in a series. He’s in talks with potential partners in Tokyo and Paris — the next cities slated to bring Crest & Co. to life. “The idea is to go where our clients go. Physical was always part of our strategy.”
The Web site launched this summer and prides itself on the exclusivity of its product. Abbasi said about 80 percent of what’s for sale on the site is sold only on crestandco.com — and when it comes to fine jewelry, among the top-selling categories on the site, nearly 100 percent of what’s offered is exclusive. The demand for rare, limited-edition product has been so aggressive thus far that Abbasi had to roll out a private clienteling service in August, months ahead of schedule.
“In the luxury space, the average [cart value] is generally under $1,000. Our cart value is generally over $3,500.” Abbasi said, noting that his business model is a combination of less volume and less operational overhead, which results in higher prices and higher profit margins.
He also decided to turn the invitation-only site into one that was open to the public, as long as they registered and created a login and password. This evolution led to another way to service the high-spenders who frequent the site: a secret URL sent to VIPs that contains about 500 products that are physically in New York. Upon request, any item on this listing can be sent to a shopper’s office or home to see in person before they commit to buying. For instance, fine jeweler Lydia Courteille’s newest collection is only being sold via that URL.
“We’re keeping some stuff back [from the main site] and making our top customers happy, but during holidays it made sense to open up the site,” Abbasi said. He added that a well-known singer referred the site’s private clienteling to a famous actress to do a “substantial” amount of her holiday shopping this season — but declined to name them, of course.