Garnet Hill, the New England catalogue and Web site that began 39 years ago importing English flannel sheets, will be experimenting with its first retail store, a 1,700-square-foot shop in Bridgehampton on Long Island’s South Fork, WWD has learned.
“It is a test,” Claire Spofford, Garnet Hill’s president and chief executive officer, told WWD. “It’s our first foray into real retail and we will watch it carefully. Hopefully, it will be successful and we’ll look at other markets. One of our great assets is our customer database. We know where our current customers are. I don’t think we will have a chain of 400 stores, but I do see very special, experiential spaces going forward.”
Garnet Hill is the latest example of a direct marketer making the move into brick-and-mortar. Bonobos, Warby Parker, Bauble Bar, Rent the Runway and Nasty Gal are among the brands that have all recently decided to open stores, becoming multichannel.
A subsidiary of the $3.6 billion HSN, Garnet Hill is best known for relaxed and casual apparel and home products, including bedding sets in soft linen, organic cotton, cardigans, heavy woven silks and cashmere robes. The assortment is about two-thirds apparel, one-third home. While the majority of the assortment is under the Garnet Hill label, Eileen Fisher home products are designed and developed and sold exclusively by Garnet Hill. The company also sells a handful of other third-party labels.
Some online businesses are opening stores in the hopes of attaining profitability. However, that’s not the motivation at Garnet Hill, according to Spofford. “Garnet Hill has always been a profitable, healthy going concern. This is more about raising the profile of the brand. We are all about the fabrications, textures, quality of material and color, and we want people to experience that first-hand.” In addition, the store opening is “a way to reintroduce the brand to the design community. The Hamptons is a hotbed of designers and interior designers.”
Garnet Hill operates one outlet and is based in Franconia, N.H. However, this September, the company is expanding by opening additional offices in Exeter, N.H. for design and merchandising teams and a photo studio, and for easier logistics and proximity to Boston. Spofford declined to disclose the brand’s volume.
The Bridgehampton store, located at 2424 Montauk Highway, is expected to open Monday, then stage a grand opening on June 27, and operate through Labor Day. Spofford said a yearlong lease was signed, and that she will consider reopening the shop for holiday selling. The shop will be edited specifically to the summer community and will partner with Designer Previews, a service that connects homeowners with interior designers and architects.
“We’ve put a lot of thought and care into our premiere store’s design and location. And Bridgehampton, with a charming downtown that is both low-key and a destination for home design resources, felt like a perfect fit for us,” said Spofford. The store is being designed by Aesthetic Movement.