DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Muji continues U.S. store expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

A Japanese lifestyle brand with a devoted following has opened an outpost in one of New York City's most hip neighborhoods that will serve as a model for future expansion.

Muji has opened a 7,300-sq.-ft. store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. It is the retailer’s seventh store in the greater New York City area. In addition to New York, Muji has six locations in California, one in New Jersey and one in Boston. It plans to add more U.S. stores next year.

The new store carries Muji's full lineup of minimalist products, including apparel, kitchenware, tableware, furniture, interior and storage accessories, stationery, skincare and travel items. It also features a number of added services including an embroidery station that allows customers to customize textile items with a selection of over 300 embroidered designs; a complimentary gift-wrapping station that seals paper packages with stitching; and a free stamp station where customers can accent their purchased paper goods with various symbols.

In addition, Muji will collaborate with local artists and artisans on upcoming projects that pay homage to Brooklyn’s creative scene and connect with the diverse families that inhabit it.

Muji was founded in Japan in 1980 and now has over 400 stores in Japan. It opened its first store outside Japan in 1991, in London, adding over 400 global locations since then. The Muji name derives from the company’s original name in Japanese: Mujirushi Ryohin, meaning “No Brand, Quality Goods."

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ECOMMERCE

Women’s apparel retailer accepts mobile payments from Chinese shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Rebecca Minkoff is making it easier for Chinese customers to purchase from the brand.

Through a partnership with Chinese online payment provider Alipay, upscale apparel retailer now enables Chinese shoppers to use their Alipay Mobile Wallet to make purchases at any United States-based Rebecca Minkoff store, or while shopping online. The mobile wallet is accepted in all Rebecca Minkoff stores located in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Alipay Mobile Wallet gives Chinese shoppers more flexibility when making a purchase, especially when choosing their preferred currency. During the checkout process for example, customers are prompted in Chinese to approve the transaction in either U.S. dollars or Chinese yuan, Alipay explained.

The retailer expects the payment option to make it a more appealing shopping destination among the more than four million Chinese consumers expected to visit North America this year, according to Rebecca Minkoff.

“Chinese travelers represent an important and growing audience for Rebecca Minkoff,” said Uri Minkoff, the company’s CEO and co-Founder. “By offering Alipay, we are ensuring that Chinese shoppers visiting any of our U.S. stores or our website are met with an exceptional experience, which includes the easiest and most familiar payment method for them.”

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Fast-casual concept has big ambitions

BY Marianne Wilson

A start-up that specializes in melted-sandwiches made from high-quality ingredients is looking to go nationwide.

Melt Shop hopes to grow to 100 locations during the next five years across the U.S. and internationally via franchising. The brand, founded in 2011 in New York, currently operates six corporate-owned locations in New York, one at Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn., and one in King of Prussia, Pa. It recently expanded into the Middle East and will open seven locations in the region, with four opening in Kuwait by March 2018.

"Melt Shop has spent the last six years tirelessly perfecting our brand and business model. The timing is right to bring our New York-born fast casual concept to the world," said Josh Morgan, operating partner of Aurify Brands, Melt Shop parent company.

Part hospitality group and part restaurant incubator, Aurify Brands also owns and operates The Little Beet, The Little Beet Table, Fields Good Chicken, and Make Sandwich.

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