NEW YORK – Shecky’s Shop in SoHo is hardly a typical store.
The assortment isn’t the vision of one person, nor is it merchandised by a team. Rather, the store at 489 Broome Street leases floor space and display cases to a variety of vendors.
Chris Hoffman, a former derivatives trader who founded Shecky’s Media in 2001, invoked the business model of Fred Segal, the California retail empire built on rented departments, when he described the inspiration for the store.
The concept of leasing space to different resources has met with mixed success here. Emerge NYC took a similar approach when it opened in August on Bleecker Street. It has since regrouped and is now called Edge NY NoHo and offers mainly jewelry.
Shecky’s has a do-it-yourself feel with topaz glass shelves perched on birch branches. A scrim of red fabric divides the store into three sections.
The 10,000-square-foot two-level space feels sparsely populated with only about 40 designers in residence, but it’s easy to imagine how Shecky’s could take on the atmosphere of a Middle Eastern bazaar once the store gets filled.
That would be fine with Claudia Chan, Shecky’s president, who wants consumers to experience a sense of discovery when they come across an unknown designer. Chan looks for “fresh faces in fashion and hard-to-find designers from Los Angeles, London and Brazil,” she said. An example is Jody Singleton, a jewelry designer. “She has a distinct, nonconventional style,” Chan said of the hand-stitched leather jewelry and accessories.
Before renting space, prospective vendors must be approved by Chan, Shecky’s Shop’s style gatekeeper. Although Chan has the final word, the store, by virtue of the number of designers it houses, can seem like a hodgepodge.
“There’s a whole application process,” she said. “At minimum they have to be here for three months. If they’re successful, they can stay longer. Every month or two, we’ll rotate new designers into the store.”
Shecky’s is projecting about $2 million in sales for the main floor in the first year, said Hoffman, who hopes the lifestyle media company can leverage readers into retail customers.
“We reach hundreds of thousands of readers with our guides to New York, our bar guides and our Web site,” he said, noting that Shecky’s Media had total sales of $5 million last year. “Events are another platform. We bring readers the hottest clothing, accessories and bars. We’re a resource in New York.”
After seeing the success of Shecky’s Girl’s Night Out shopping parties, launched in 2001, Hoffman thought a store might be viable. The shopping events at the Puck Building here — similar parties are held in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta — attract about 6,000 women, a raucous bunch that’s been treated to five hours of free cocktails. An event this month at the Puck Building advertised more than 100 designers at as much as 75 percent off, giveaways, goodie bags and beauty services. Admission was $35 paid in advance or $45 at the door.
Chan, who also oversees the selection of designers for Girl’s Night Out, said Shecky’s Shop has higher standards. “Girl’s Night Out is more liberal in accepting designers,” she explained, noting that there will be about 5 percent overlap between the two venues. Designers pay a flat fee to be included in Girl’s Night Out. “They do it to get rid of extra inventory and get their name out,” Hoffman said.
“The whole point of the store is that it’s a turn-key store for young designers,” Hoffman said. “They walk in with merchandise. We have salespeople and insurance.”
Chan, who pegs Shecky’s customers as trendsetting women between 21 and 45 years old, believes they’ll respond to E.vil T-shirts emblazoned with messages such as “Little Miss Golddigger” and Daveese Couture’s dresses made of linen, leather and lace ($150 to $400).
“Some designers we discovered on the street,” Chan said. “We look for signature accents.”
Hoffman isn’t too worried about the current business model not taking hold.
“We might decide we want to operate more like a traditional retailer,” he said.