The best thing about Amazon making shopping boring is that stores - at the least the good ones - are being reborn as shopping experiences. And not just shopping, but education and community.
This is particularly true for brands opening their first stores and redefining what ROI a physical presence should provide. ADAY’s tiny Simplicity Store in Soho brings to life the brand’s entire ethos by presenting a capsule collection of apparel in a minimalist environment and teaming up with likeminded companies in wellness and beauty for a packed calendar of events. I love everything about it.
Hobo's Leather Lounge at Artists & Fleas Soho benefits its own handbag and small leather goods brand, as well as Artists & Fleas, which now has to differentiate its market locations from each other in order to keep an independent feel. The large space is a hub for local artisans performing live leather crafting that's for-purchase and customizable. Art and music performances round out the experience.
In the home space, which often has longer product cycles and fewer SKUs than apparel and accessories, Hem isn't just another interiors store with a bunch a furniture. Not only does the brand bring in a local greenhouse supplier to sell plants, but it makes a lifestyle play by including watches and acoustics in a way I haven't seen another store authentically pull off. It reminds me, in a broader way, of what I observed at Sonos last year.
While Hobo is an established brand at wholesale, ADAY and Hem are in the enviable positions of defining what their brands will be IRL from scratch, with creativity. No legacy infrastructure or culture, no public shareholders, lack of private equity (to my knowledge) trying to squeeze toward an exit.