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Eco-friendly retailer to open first of its kind home improvement store

BY Marianne Wilson

A home improvement start-up with a green conscience is expanding out of its Austin, Texas, hometown.

TreeHouse will open the nation’s first-ever net-zero energy store on June 1, at The Hill, a shopping center in Dallas. The store will be the retailer’s second location, but not for long. An additional store, planned for the Plano area, is due to open this fall.

TreeHouse offers a carefully curated selection of products and services that promote healthful and sustainable living spaces, with an emphasis on performance and design. Every product is scored based on health, performance, corporate responsibility and sustainability.

“TreeHouse is reinventing home improvement with the twin goals of ecological and human health,” the company explains on its web site. “Our core principles are applied to everything in the store. From thoughtful and innovative products to comprehensive, high-quality services — every element is designed to build a better home.”

Prior to opening in Dallas, TreeHouse has opened a Sustainable Home of the Future pop-up at Dallas’ NorthPark Center. The temporary display was built with an array of sustainable materials and includes efficient fixtures and appliances, a rainwater harvesting tank and a food recycler that turns scraps into compost. It includes educational vignettes on the importance of maintaining a healthy home.

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Online fine jeweler continues offline growth

BY Marianne Wilson

Ethically sourced bridal and fine jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth is expanding its brick-and-mortar footprint.

The company has just opened a location in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. The showroom utilizes an appointment model designed to provide a high-touch, personalized experience for every customer.

The new Georgetown location joins existing Brilliant Earth showrooms in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and San Diego (opened in early April). Next will be a location in Denver.

The 2,500 sq.-ft. Georgetown space has a loft feel, with high ceilings, glass walls, and classic exposed brick. Founded online in 2005, Brilliant Earth features diamonds and gemstones that originate from mines that adhere to strict labor and environmental standards. In addition to fair sourcing practices, Brilliant Earth is committed to initiating change in the jewelry industry, donating 5% of profits to help communities impacted by the jewelry trade build a brighter future.

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Macy’s expands off-price concept

BY Marianne Wilson

Macy’s is getting more serious about its off-price format, Macy’s Backstage.

The department store giant plans to add 30 Backstage shops to existing Macy’s stores this year, reported CNBC. The format debuted in 2015, originally as a freestanding store.

But starting in 2016, Macy’s has been expanding the concept by opening dedicated in-store Backstage shops in its full-line department stores, which are typically located in a traditional mall. The merchandise mix includes clothing home decor, shoes, sunglasses, baby gear, and bedding. Locating Backstage in a full-line Macy’s store gives the retailer a point of differentiation over such off-price competitors as TJ Maxx and Ross Stores.

"We hope that by the end of 2017, what we're going to exit with is a viable off-price concept that is on-mall, not off-mall like our ferocious competitors," Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC. (Gennette took the reins from longtime CEO Terry Lundgren in March.)

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