Three dozen Madison Avenue merchants, seeking to spur Valentine’s Day business and maximize social distancing for safe shopping amid COVID-19, are taking private shopping to a new level.
From Feb. 8 to 20, shoppers can have stores to themselves, to shop alone, with their significant other or with friends or family members.
There’s a wide range of categories and brands, including Baccarat, Marc Jacobs, Chopard, Tod’s and Zimmerman, participating in the program, called Make a Date on Madison Avenue. Art galleries, eyewear, consignment and linen firms are also taking part. The event has been organized by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District.
To shop one of the 40 stores by yourself, appointments can be booked here starting Monday.
Beginning Tuesday, appointments can also be made by scanning the QR codes which will be posted on store windows along Madison Avenue.
“You experience the store on your own, with an associate and get that true VIP, red carpet treatment, without having to worry about being around groups,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue B.I.D., which extends from 57th to 86th Streets.
Noting the importance of social distancing, Bauer said, “You have a real sense of safety as we are going through the pandemic, and a very special experience. It will really feel like a date.”
Bauer also noted there is no charge for an appointment, and no minimum purchases required.
There’s been little shopping traffic on Madison Avenue, or at other venues throughout the city and around the country, during the pandemic. The number of COVID-19 cases being reported spiked in January in the aftermath of holiday gatherings, and while still high that number has been declining in recent days, according to government officials. Because of that, along with expectations of more vaccines becoming available in the near future, it’s possible that people will be less reluctant to shop around Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14).
Though business on Madison Avenue is tough, there has been some store opening activity. Just last Saturday, Anti, a streetwear brand, opened on the northeast corner of 85th Street, and Mykita eyewear, on the west side of the avenue between 75th and 76th Streets. Last fall, Balmain and LoveShackFancy were among last year’s openings on Madison.
With the “Make a Date on Madison Avenue” program, most of the participating brands are offering the run of the store for an hour. A few will offer the experience for a half hour, and a couple of multilevel stores, like Etro, will close off a single level for a private shopping experience, but not the entire store, Bauer noted. A couple of luxury brands including Graff and De Beers offer private VIP salons for appointments.
Bauer said he is hopeful that Madison Avenue merchants decide to continue providing clients with opportunities to shop without any other customers in the store, after the Make a Date program officially ends.
“This program feels like it’s going to be fun, and it will give an opportunity to re-experience what it feels to go into a store,” for those who haven’t shopped brick-and-mortar for awhile, said Bauer.
Depending on the store, some appointments can be booked before or after normal store hours and some are setting aside specific slots during normal store hours.
As of this week, 36 brands are participating in the event, which will be promoted on social media with ads: Seven For All Mankind, Agent Provocateur, Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Aquatalia, Arlene Angard Design & Fine Arts, Baccarat, Bandier, Barton Perreira, Berluti, Bottega Veneta, Buccellati, Chopard, De Beers Jewellers, Diptyque, Etro, Fivestory, Frette, Graff, Ippolita, Jenni Kayne, Jimmy Choo, John Lobb, Longchamp, Marc Jacobs, Mark Cross, Michael’s Luxury Consignment, Morgenthal Frederics (three locations), N. Peal Cashmere, Panerai, Paul Morelli, Robert Marc NYC (two locations,) Roger Vivier, Tod’s, Wolford and Zimmermann.