With the recession still lurking, retail therapy has lost some of its allure among consumers who are now finding more meaningful pleasure in experiences. Driven by the increased desire for experiences over material goods, the retail landscape is being forced to reinvent and innovate. Although a recent New York Times article on the topic
claimed that "industry professionals say they have difficulty identifying any retailer that is managing to do this well today, with one notable exception: Apple," we've been noticing a slew of stores that we believe are well on their way.
Nike at Santa Monica Place:
Those who have encountered the spatial magnitude of a Niketown may at first be underwhelmed upon entering the new, slimmed down Nike "experience" store at Santa Monica Place
. But, after taking a look around, we think they'll ultimately be impressed by the emporium's focus on cementing the Nike brand as an ambassador of community sports. Interior design efforts confirm this: mannequins are outfitted in jerseys of local high school teams; reclaimed bleacher seats line the walls; and wrestling mats have been transformed into benches. The store also features a Nike+
station that employs a big screen television to educate the uninitiated on how to use the device to design workouts, measure running distances, gauge speed, track calories, customize favorite running music, and network with other runners online. For those who would rather hook up with their running peers in the real world, the store also highlights (with local maps) its Nike+ Run Club that meets at the store twice a week.
Ever since local resident Masakazu Fujiwara won the city's marathon earlier this year, there has been a reignited passion for running in Tokyo; Adidas Runbase promises to keep this newfound runners' adrenaline up. Part store, part running club, this Tokyo Adidas store is just as much a clubhouse for marathon training as it is a retail outlet. This running base camp offers 16 shower cubicles, 248 lockers for rent, and the convenience of being able to test out the brand's latest shoes and clothing. Situated near the city's Imperial Palace
, it could not be better located, as many Tokyo runners like to take advantage of the unobstructed track that circles the palace
. Highly trained staff is also available to help both beginner and seasoned road runners choose the best shoe to suit their needs.
Craftsman Experience: Recently opened in Chicago's River North district
is this interactive flagship store for Sears' tool brand. The artsy, affluent neighborhood that's best known for fancy boutiques and restaurants - celebrated chef Graham Elliot's restaurant will be housed in the same loft as the store - is an interesting location choice for a blue collar tool shop. But with the DIY trend finding its way into all walks of life, Sears is hoping to expand the Craftsman audience through this hands-on store (which is similar to Sears' nearby Kenmore Live Studio
) that lets shoppers get their hands dirty at work stations. A live social media studio and ongoing project demos and workshops using Craftsman tools give participants some new ideas and skills. Nearby furniture stores may be in trouble once shoppers stop in to Craftsman and realize that building their own dining room table may not be so hard, after all.