STORE SPACES

Brookstone to debut new store concept—with a nod to tech inventors

BY Marianne Wilson

Brookstone is launching a new retail platform that gives tech brands and emerging product makers in the space easier access to stores in U.S. malls. And the retailer is using its existing store base as the launch pad.

The retailer will unveil its first Brookstone Makers Showcase store on April 21, at Roosevelt Field Mall, Garden City, New York. The 4,236-sq.-ft. pilot location — a converted Brookstone site — will put a spotlight on products from online collaborative invention platform Quirky and crowdfunding website Indiegogo, as well as new tech brands from around the world. It will also feature a selection of the best-selling products at Brookstone.

“It’s the best of three worlds,” said Paul Donovan, creative director/copy, Brookstone, which in 2014 was sold to Sanpower Group Company, a Chinese conglomerate whose primary businesses are engaged in technology and modern service industries.

The retailer plans to open at least 10 Makers Showcase stores this year. All will be remodels of existing Brookstone locations.

“We may have some variations on the theme and category,” Donovan said.

Brookstone said the Makers Showcase concept will help emerging products makers and brands sell products in A-level malls at low-cost structures that are competitive to selling through online marketplaces. The business model will offer flexible options for the makers and new brands that include display margin and consignment models.

“We will work out arrangements with each organization that are the most cost effective,” Donovan said.

Makers Showcase is designed to give customers a hands-on experiences with new products. It will feature a dedicated product demonstration stage, and a sound-dampened “Voice Box” room where customers can try out such voice-centered innovations as Zolo voice-activated speakers.

In addition, the store will host frequent “Meet-the-Maker” events during peak traffic periods where product makers can interact with customers.

“We’re bringing more than 50 years of retailing expertise to new makers,” stated Tom Connolly, VP of operations. “We’ve helped launch brands such as Tempur-Pedic, Parrot, iRobot and Segway. Getting people to experience new technologies and have fun is in our DNA.”

The format will combine advanced store traffic analytics with feedback from and reporting from in-store customer interactions to help makers quickly gain insights into their products. The smart store analytics platform, from RetailNext, will analyze customer traffic patterns, dwell time and conversion rates.

“Comprehensive shopper data allows both Brookstone and its makers’ brands the ability to measure shopper engagement and utilize those metrics to take continuous improvement actions on everything from merchandising to ongoing product development,” said Alexei Agratchev, co-founder and CEO, RetailNext.

Brookstone will also host a series of “innovation competitions” at universities in which makers can present their products to industry experts. Winners’ products may be featured in Brookstone stores worldwide.

“Makers often experience sticker shock when trying to sell their products through brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Nick Vyas, founder and executive director at the Center for Global Supply Chain Management at the USC Marshall School of Business. “Selling through traditional retailer agreements quickly eats into their margin. Profits go down. Prices go up. What the Brookstone PLUS platform does is create an efficient platform that lets makers sell in A-level malls with flexible, lower-cost structures that are competitive to selling through online marketplaces.”

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Apple goes all in for renewable energy

BY Marianne Wilson

Apple marks an energy milestone.

The company announced that, as part of its commitment to combat climate change and create a healthier environment, its global facilities are now powered with 100% clean energy. The achievement includes all of Apple’s retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries — including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India.

“After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

Apple currently has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totaling 626 megawatts of generation capacity, with 286 megawatts of solar PV generation coming online in 2017, its most ever in one year. It also has 15 more projects in construction. The company’s renewable energy projects represent a diverse range of energy sources, including solar arrays and wind farms as well as emerging technologies like biogas fuel cells, micro-hydro generation systems and energy storage technologies.

In addition, Apple Park, Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., is now the largest LEED Platinum-certified office building in North America. It is powered by 100% renewable energy from multiple sources, including a 17-megawatt onsite rooftop solar installation and four megawatts of biogas fuel cells, and controlled by a microgrid with battery storage. It also gives clean energy back to the public grid during periods of low occupancy.

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Photo: Champion
Photo: Champion
Photo: Champion
Photo: Champion
Photo: Champion
STORE SPACES

First Look: Champion, Los Angeles

BY Marianne Wilson

Champion Athleticwear, the nearly 100-year-old iconic athletic apparel brand, has opened its first-ever U.S. store, in Los Angeles.

Located in the city’s flourishing La Brea District, the outpost features onsite customization, allowing shoppers to design one-of-a-kind Champion garments tailored to their specific preferences, exclusive specialized product assortments not available anywhere else, and frequent product drops from the company’s global lines. Regional collections inspired by the Southern California area locale will also be available and will include exclusive styles, colors and partnerships with local influencers.

The store’s design is inspired by Champion’s sportswear heritage but interpreted in a modern way, mirroring how the brand continuously reinvents its classic and iconic products. Key materials reference the brand’s authentic American athletic wear positioning, and include reclaimed basketball-court hardwoods, gym lockers and metal mesh (like the mesh fabric Champion pioneered).

“The store will showcase not only our iconic pieces, such as Reverse Weave, but also our heritage and key moments in time, further illustrating our brand’s unique identity,” said David Robertson, director brand Champion brand marketing. “We truly believe in our mantra that ‘it takes a little more to make a Champion’ and we’ve transformed this concept into a reality with this store.”

Champion, which is owned by Hanesbrand, has been enjoying a renaissance recently, with new collections and embraced by such models and social media stars as Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner.

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