NEW YORK — Federated Department Stores has started testing in-store Lenscrafters optical boutiques and selling American Greetings greeting cards, furthering its “reinvent” strategy geared to enliven its stores, make them easier to shop and revive categories and merchandise dropped years ago.
“We will carefully monitor results of these pilots, and roll out concepts that are successful with our targeted customer,” Federated vice chairman Tom Cole said Friday. “Based on results, we also plan to identify other partners that can make shopping our stores more interesting, exciting and productive. We want to test everything we can get our hands on.
“Customers tell us they want to buy a wider range of merchandise within our stores, and with brands they know and trust.” Cole said electronics and maternity concepts are being considered, among others. Reinvent also involves enhanced fitting-room environments with waiting lounges, easier-to-read signs and directories, automated price-check devices, and plasma video screens.
The first Lenscrafters optical boutique opened Friday at the Bon-Macy’s store in Tacoma, Wash. Others are scheduled to open at Burdines in Fort Myers, Fla., on Nov. 19, as well as in Macy’s in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Nov. 21, and in Sacramento and Concorde, Calif., in February.
The 1,500-square-foot optical shops will be adjacent to accessories or apparel areas. Each will offer more than 1,000 prescription and sunglass frames from Ray-Ban, Prada, Versace, Brooks Brothers, among other brands. Eye exams, free eyewear fashion consultations, free cleanings and adjustments will be available.
Federated is also selling the Winking Moon Press card line from American Greetings in 41 stores, primarily in gift areas in home, bridal and children’s departments. Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s East, Rich’s/Lazarus/Goldsmith’s-Macy’s, Bon-Macy’s and Burdines are involved. “We want to be known as a gift store,” Cole said.
Other stores, such as Marshall Field’s on State Street, Chicago, have also begun to rethink their offerings by bringing in leased shops, consignment shops and other partnerships to broaden the merchandise range. Federated’s Lenscrafters shops are licensed, and the greeting cards are bought on consignment, Cole said. Lenscrafters owns the inventory, creates the assortment, runs the business and counts the sales, while Federated gets a percentage based on sales.
Federated’s other licensed operations include Finlay Jewelry, McDonald’s and Starbucks, and Footstar children’s shoes.