Retail Surprises at the Cartier Pop-up... and Amazon 4-star

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On the way to visit the new Amazon 4-star store in Soho, I stumbled upon a Cartier pop-up at 120 Wooster (open until 11/4/18). First of all, being surprised by new retail that’s not on my ever-growing must-visit list tends to surprise me. Which newsletter or Twitter handle am I not following that I need to be?

But I had a number of more surprising observations about this experience:

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  1. Except for a room meant to simulate the experience of being inside a diamond, the entire space was dedicated not to the jewelry for which Cartier is best known, but to promoting their lesser-known fragrance collection
  2. There were fairly deep consumer engagement and fragrance education opportunities throughout the space that took time and actually had little to do with Instagram, such as the wall of quotes from the brand’s head of fragrance accompanying a postcard-making experience and a screen that explained what goes into a particular scent when I opened the box to smell it (both pictured)
  3. While this was very well done, especially relative to some other temporary retail I’ve visited recently, it had nowhere near the polish of a Cartier store — presumably and impressively, the company is okay with coloring outside the lines like this

This was all slow shopping and pure discovery. As it turns out, my impression when I got to Amazon 4-star was similar in these ways. Unlike many who have covered this opening, I actually found the store to have a lot of the fun and whimsy Amazon generally lacks, even if it’s sometimes tacky.

There’s something entertaining - and often quite useful - about seeing what other consumers like. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the browsing experience, despite the crowds. Like the central areas at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and The Container Store, there was plenty I could’ve bought on impulse.

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What also surprised me about Amazon 4-star was its temporary appearance. I understand the point is flexibility, but signs were falling down or peeling away. Yet, the store has an odd display of “Amazon 4-star Soho” souvenir merchandise connoting more permanent. Will these items become collectible like the Starbucks city mugs?

Other Saturday traffic winners on my walk across town on Spring Street: Birkenstock, Aerie by American Eagle Outfitters, and Allbirds.