*Takes deep breath* Ahh, I love the smell of innovative retail experiences in the morning. That’s how it goes right?
I feel like I may have quoted that wrong, oh well. I’ve been doing some thinking…
Here at Inphantry, we crave new and exciting experiences. Whether it’s skydiving, the latest Gears of War title, or even just a new brunch spot, we are all about finding experiences that inspire us and get the creative juices flowing. We’ve put together a short list of some of our favorite retailers that continue to surprise and excite us. Here’s a short list of what we’re keeping our eyes on.
Established in 2011 by famed sneaker designer Ronnie Fieg, Kith has become a staple in the world of sneakers and style. Ronnie Fieg’s thoughtful vision has grown Kith into more than just a sneaker boutique into an ever-changing retail destination. Working with giants like Nike, Adidas, and even fashion retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Kith’s in store popups always provide unique and insightful experiences not quite seen anywhere else in the sneaker world. Most recently, Kith partnered Samsung to create a VR experience for their recent NY Fashion Week presentation, Kithland. On top of that, Ronnie Fieg has opened Kith Women, a curated boutique highlighting the best in Kith’s women’s offering and lifestyle products. There is even Kith Treats, a cereal and ice cream shop where you can get concoctions put together by celebs like Action Bronson and Victor Cruz. Do you see a pattern yet? Kith has consistently pushed their retail space beyond expectations and I can’t fathom what they’re up to next.
Every year my family vacations in York, and we pretty much dedicate a whole day to tasting jams and sauces at Stonewall Kitchen. Here’s a pro-tip for your visit: bring your wallet, because you are going to want to buy everything. If there is one word to describe the Stonewall Kitchen experience, it’s immersion. The second you step into their beautiful flagship, you are welcomed (and encouraged!) to sample almost every product in their tool belt. Jams, salsas, ice cream sauces, and other treats are all ready for tasting, and pretty much sell themselves after the first bite (there’s even Stonewall Kitchen soap in the bathrooms). The flagship is also home to a full professional kitchen where customers can participate in informational and delicious demos and classes. There’s even have a full cafe for breakfast and lunch with items that feature Stonewall Kitchen’s best. Stuffed blueberry jam french toast, anyone? Stonewall Kitchen makes their customers feel at home and gives them powerful reasons to take a jar of jam (or a dozen) back home with them.
I came across Johnny Cupcakes in 2008 and to say I was instantly hooked is an understatement. To put it in perspective, I was such a diehard fan that my high school newspaper wrote an article about me – not kidding. To those unfamiliar, Johnny Cupcakes is a bakery-themed clothing line with a deep cult following started by Hull native John Earle. I could go on about why I love this brand, but I will trim it down to 2 keys: unique retail spaces and personality like no other. After a recent restructuring, Johnny Cupcakes decided to overhaul their Newbury St. Flagship, and boy, is it special. You enter the retail space through a giant, custom-built oven door. Inside, you can find a whole wall of colorful ovens, a detailed look at the brand’s history, and creative products held in bakery cases. If you like in the Boston area and haven’t seen it yet, what are you doing still reading this blog?
Over the years Johnny Cupcakes has held lots of fun events, whether it be dodgeball at a local gym or carnival-like games at their special Halloween release. The best part? John and his family are almost always in attendance, his mom even brought watermelon slices for everyone at the recent Newbury St. Anniversary event. John always says hello by name and always asks about my dad since he’d always accompany me to fun events. It’s hard to think of other brands who care that much about their customers, and that’s why Johnny Cupcakes will always stand out.
Before the emergence of the Capital One Cafes, the only reason I would think to go to a coffee shop for financial advice is if Mark Cuban was a barista at my local Starbucks.
Today, you can head to a grab your favorite Peet’s coffee, relax in a comfy chair to check your email, and open a savings account all in one place. The space is filled with long wooden tables, brick walls, and comfortable chairs, even a large display for news, weather, and Capital One offers.
Capital One Cafes take the confusion and intimidation out of banking, providing a relaxing space to grab a coffee, get some work done, and get financial help. Many shops try hard to be that third place besides work and home: Starbucks, Panera Bread, even Apple. Capital One succeeds in creating a comforting and informative third place with their Cafes.
Ever get stuck half-naked in a dressing room, somehow trying to get the attention of an associate to grab you another size? It’s not fun. That’s why designer Rebecca Minkoff has disrupted the retail space with her SoHo flagship. Upon arrival, shoppers can check in on a 120-inch touch screen. Here they can send items to their dressing room, review past purchases, even order a complimentary cup of coffee or glass of champagne.
In their dressing room, RFID scanners automatically identify items and a touch screen mirror provides customers with the ability to request other sizes, change lighting scenarios, and even find suggested accessories. The brand hopes to expand this functionality to alert associates of repeat customers arrival and push their past purchases and dressing room preferences to their phone. These additions to the retail space are simple, but they elevate the in-store experience like nothing else out there today.
Not everyone needs to craft immersive, engaging experiences like this – but when it comes to figuring out what’s best for you and your team, shouldn’t you be relying on a technology-savvy team in the heart of America’s Innovation District?