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STORE SPACES

First Look: New retail concept aims to be the holy ‘grail’ for sneaker fans

BY Marianne Wilson

Sneaker enthusiasts—regular fans and serious collectors—are the target audience of Grail, a new retail concept financially backed by footwear retailer DSW Inc.

Launched in Vancouver (British Columbia), Grail offers an immersive retail experience that celebrates sneaker culture, art and community. The 3,100-sq.-ft. store carries a vast assortment of men’s and women’s sneakers from such leading brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma along with a selection of hard-to-find niche global brands — some of which are exclusive in North America to Grail. There is also a smattering of accessories and shoe-care products.

The store has a sleek, high-tech feel. A digital clock is displayed in a front window, showing the countdown to exclusive, limited-edition sneaker drops. The entryway features a state-of-the-art, high-res LED ceiling with surround sound, creating a theatre-like experience for entering shoppers.

The interior pairs minimalist and textured design elements with technology. Sneakers are displayed on perforated steel panels on the slatted cement board walls. Exposed conduits and caged LED tube lights mix with liquid crystal wall projections that switch from clear to opaque in a moment.

At this time, DSW has no plans to open a Grail store in the U.S., a spokesperson told Chain Store Age, “but we’re excited to take a read on the Vancouver store and learn more about this audience.”

For more slideshows, click here.

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Cover Girl to open flagship in Times Square

BY Marianne Wilson

Cover Girl is moving into freestanding retail—and not in a small way.

The mass makeup brand will open a 10,000-sq.-ft. flagship in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square. Due to open in fall 2018, the location will include an experiential “beauty play room” with interactive elements, full-service makeup applications, on-the-go services, digital experiences and more. It will also sell product.

The design of the store will reflect the dynamic and energetic locale, according to the company. It will also serve as an interpretation of CoverGirl’s “I am what I make up” brand philosophy.

“At CoverGirl, we believe that makeup is a powerful tool for creativity and self-expression,” stated Ukonwa Ojo, senior VP, Cover Girl, which is owned by Coty. “Opening a concept store will help bring this brand purpose to life in an immersive, elevated and multidimensional way.”

The upcoming flagship is the latest in a series of moves related to Cover Girl’s major re-branding initiative, which debuted last September.

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Amazon Go reportedly selects two locations in Chicago

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon’s cashierless store format is doubling down on Chicago.

Amazon Go has leased spaces in the Willis Tower, the tallest building in Chicago, and in an office building connected to Ogilvie Transportation Center, reported the Chicago Tribune. Both locations enjoy heavy foot-traffic, according to the report, which also said the company was seeking a space in Los Angeles.

The first (and still the only) Amazon Go location opened to the public in January, in Seattle. Prior to that, it was open a year in a test mode exclusively to Amazon employees.

In May, numerous media outlets reported that the concept would open in San Francisco and Chicago. Amazon confirmed the two openings to GeekWire, but did not say the stores would open or the exact locations.

To shop the store, shoppers launch the Amazon Go app on their mobile device as they enter, and take the products they want off of store shelves. Amazon’s “walk out” technology automatically detects when products are taken off (or returned) to the shelves, and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.

When customers are done shopping, they just leave the store. Shortly after, they receive a digital receipt and their Amazon account is also charged for the order, according to the website.

 

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