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Showrooms — a retail model popular with bridal designers, car dealers and, recently, online apparel start-ups — are now inspiring mass-market heavyweights like Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.
In intimate salons, some the size of a cafe, shoppers can examine a limited selection of merchandise and place orders for products to be delivered or collected later. The customer service is often luxurious, but so is the time commitment for shoppers.
This is the antithesis of the standard shopping mall experience, with the overwhelming assortment of products, the glazed apathy of part-time store workers, the disrobed patrons bellowing from fitting rooms for another size.
But the sector is desperate to evolve after a brutal year of bankruptcies (Toys “R” Us, Payless Shoe Source, The Limited and more) and store closings (J. C. Penney, for example, plans to shutter up to 14 percent of its stores this year). E-commerce rivals — Amazon, most significantly — are chewing deeper into sales.
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