By Cynthia Maxwell, Trend Forecasting

“In 2017, 8,642 retail stores will close in North America.” - Doug Stephens, The Business of Fashion. For years now, seven from my personal experience in the industry, we have heard the same thing-retailers will have to change their brick and mortar space to get the customer back in the store. Considering that in the next six years e-commerce will comprise 25% of total retail in the U.S. Today the question is “Get the customers back in the store to do what?”

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So these new retail spaces have to be about the experience, the story, the ultimate wow that’s going to move the consumer from their comfortable couch, out from behind their devices and get them back in this so called magical retail space. How are retailers reacting to this? With the amount of store closings in the U.S. some are obviously not reacting or simply not succeeding with their vision. Sound dismal? Good news! There are new concepts that are getting the customer excited to get out and shop once again.

Week two of this September, Nordstrom announced that on October 3rd, in West Hollywood they will open a 3,000 square feet store WITHOUT clothing. Well, not clothing that is for sale per se. While your enjoying wine, beer or espresso-all of which help you buy more, your personal stylist will assist as you try on the featured collections. The clothing can be ordered and will arrive at the store the same day or the stylist can pick it up from a traditional Nordstrom store. Did I mention you could get manicures as well? The concept creates a more luxurious one on one shopping experience without the overwhelming task of sifting through a sea of racks filled with merchandise.

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Far, Far, Away, Starbucks opened a traditional Japanese teahouse in a 100 year old townhouse on a protected street in Kyoto. The house, originally used to host geisha, features a traditional hanging cloth with a Starbucks logo on the exterior-it’s a blue cloth, by the way, not Starbucks easily identifiable green. Upon entering you will sit on tatatami mats surrounded by traditional Japanese gardens. Could this be less about the commercialism and more about the look and feel of your neighborhood coffee shop? Definitely worth a thought on how any retail business could become one with the culture no matter what area of the world.

STORY, a 2000 square foot space located in Manhattan’s 10 Ave. retail corridor, “is a retail concept that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store. That means every four to eight weeks, STORY completely reinvents itself -from the design to the merchandise – with the goal of bringing to light a new theme, trend or issue.”  STORY’s founders collaborate with the likes of American Express, Intel and Cigna to create stories around the brand in which consumers can experience and experiment -like a lab of sorts. Their current collaboration with Coty invites consumers to play with a load of Coty brands that inspire individual expression. You will get to try out the first and only magnetic lashes, smell uncommon candle scents, get a facial that revives your skin in 30 minutes-just to name a few! Rightly timed during New York Fashion Week their will be events the whole month featuring Coty’s top makeup artists, hair stylists and manicurist to demo trending looks. The whole STORY is beauty!

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Are we starting to get that breath of fresh air in retail? …I would say yes! Consumers are ready! These concepts are paving the way to exciting new ways to shop. With all the doomsday “retail apocalypse” predictions out there LONG LIVE the RISK TAKERS!

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