Simon, the nation’s largest shopping center developer, will soon unveil a format to make it fast and easy for online-only brands to get their feet wet in brick-and-mortar, and for consumers to explore products new to the market.
The 4,500-square-foot space, called The Edit at Roosevelt Field, launches mid-November inside the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, N.Y., WWD has learned. It will debut with at least a dozen brands representing a wide variety of categories including Raden smart luggage, Millennial-focused Skinnydip London, Vitaly men’s wear, Rhone athletic apparel, Winky Lux beauty, Beltology, Jars by Dani desserts, and a contemporary art gallery called Uprise Art. All of those brands are online only, except for Skinnydip, Jars by Dani and Uprise Art.
The format, situated in the malls’ North Court near the “dining district,” is being carved out of 3,000 square feet of inline store space and 1,000 square feet of common area. Brands will be displayed in “micro retail units” ranging from 20 square feet to 200 square feet. They will be provided with custom-designed modular fixturing systems, digital media walls and staffing needs.
“This concept is a design-centric, experience-driven and completely transitional place to discover new product and technology in a brick-and-mortar space,” said Zachary Beloff, national director of business development at Simon. “It’s a permanent installation retail space. What’s more on the more temporary side are the brands that will be participating in shorter durations, from three to six months,” which is when another batch of emerging brands will be unveiled.
“The Edit at Roosevelt Field really differentiates from anything that we have seen before. It’s a hybrid of space,” added Eric Sadi, Simon’s executive vice president of leasing. “It’s meant to blur the lines between what the inline retail experience would be with a storefront, with what occurs in the common areas where typically we have carts or kiosks. It kind of morphs into the mall as its own unit. There’s a very rough edge to the space.”
The Simon executives, in an exclusive interview, said the objective is to enable direct-to-consumer brands to launch into brick-and-mortar “as quickly as possible, with as little effort as possible” yet with high exposure and impact.
“The target is reaching brands earlier in their life cycle,” Sadi said. “Many of the brands that are participating would otherwise not have access to retail space or the ability to create a retail touchpoint in a shopping center. This is first taste of retail for many of them.”
The executives said the format is flexible, being able to accommodate from a couple of brands to as many as 14 at a time. While generally the brands will be present for three to six months, some could go longer or leave sooner. In addition, it’s possible some brands graduate to permanent spaces at Roosevelt Field or some other Simon property. But all mall operators and landlords are eager to introduce fresh experiences to consumers to generate greater shopping traffic and compete more effectively against Amazon, eBay and other Internet players.
Asked why Roosevelt Field was chosen to launch The Edit, Sadi said one of Simon’s highest traffic locations was required so brands “could eliminate that variable and concentrate on product and experience.” The mall recently completed an expansion and renovation that introduced the dining district, a two-level wing, and Long Island’s first Neiman Marcus. The center is anchored by Nordstrom, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Bloomingdale’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods and has more than 270 specialty stores. Last year, Roosevelt Field staged a holiday marketplace in partnership with Urban Space Management that showcased local retailers and handmade products. It won’t be duplicated this year to keep the focus on The Edit at Roosevelt Field.
Simon executives selected the brands for the space by learning about them firsthand or by working with Appear Here, an online platform based in the U.K. streamlining the process of connecting brands with shopping centers. “Frankly, we are already looking at the next wave of brands which we have a long list of,” Sadi said.
He described the financial arrangements with the brands at The Edit at Roosevelt Field as “fairly traditional structures with some modifications based on the brand.”
“There is a really low barrier to entry,” Beloff added. “We are providing all of the fixtures and all access to signage and branding opportunities. Brands can literally bring product in and be in business overnight.” Sadi liked The Edit at Roosevelt Field to “a house of brands” adding, “We are providing the building blocks. We created common elements of fixturing. They are providing the merchandising, the embellishments. It won’t come across as a flea market. It will have a sophisticated, fun look.”
So far, the format is only appearing at Roosevelt Field. “Certainly we believe that with success, it is potentially scalable to other markets,” Sadi said.
“It’s a Dover Street for the masses,” added Beloff, emphasizing that brands will be able to project their identities.
Said Josh Udashkin, chief executive officer of Raden, “We are a brand that wants to reach new customers where they are already predisposed to shopping. Simon has malls with lots of traffic. We believe the mall is an under-penetrated market for new brands that should be taken advantage of it.”