Seven Cool Stores for a Hot Summer

The spring and summer brought a flurry of new store concepts, both from established players and online upstarts. Check out the seven below (listed in alphabetical order):

1. Bulletin, New York City

Founded in 2014 as a shoppable digital magazine for Internet-based brands, Bulletin has evolved into an omnichannel retailer, with three stores in New York City and a thriving website. Its Union Square flagship offers products from more than 60 female-led online brands. The company operates with a membership-based business model: Each brand pays a monthly fee to rent out space to sell its product.

Bulletin is all about female empowerment, and uses its stores to host events around progressive issues.

2. The Container Store, Dallas

First Look: The Container Store unveils tech-savvy ‘next-generation’ store

The retailer unveiled its “next-generation” store concept at its revamped Dallas flagship. The store combines enhanced technology, an updated merchandising strategy and more personalized services with a goal of making it easier for customers to take care of their storage and organization needs.

Eighteen digital screens are scattered throughout the space, with content that runs the gamut from design inspiration to an online experience called “The Organization Studio.” It allows customers to upload a photo or video of their organizational challenge, describe the problem, and set up an in-store appointment to meet with a store expert.

Design-wise, the new format is more inviting and comfortable than a typical Container Store, with lower ceilings, less shelving, improved sight lines, and new flooring and enhanced lighting. And in a new twist, merchandise set-ups are reflective of real home spaces.

The concept resulted from consumer research conducted in partnership by the Container Store, FRCH Design Worldwide and digital innovation agency MJD.

3. Cuyana, New York City

Sometimes less is more. Or at least that’s the philosophy of online women’s apparel brand Cuyana. The start-up’s third physical location, in the city’s SoHo neighborhood, has a minimalist aesthetic that reflects the brand’s philosophy of “fewer, better.” It features a curated selection of wardrobe essentials, as well as on-sit monogramming.

Founded in 2013 by two young female entrepreneurs, Cuyana describes the New York store “as an experience created by women, for women.” Cuyana combines its simple but stylish merchandise with a strong social message. Shoppers who select the “Lean Closet” option at checkout receive a linen bag to fill with clothing they no longer want. After mailing the bag back to Cuyana with the included shipping label, the shopper will receive a $10 credit towards their next purchase. The donated clothing is given directly to victims of abuse, to help them get a fresh start.

4.Grail, Vancouver, British Columbia

Sneaker enthusiasts — regular fans and serious collectors — are the target audience of Grail, a new retail concept financially backed by footwear retail giant DSW Inc. The 3,100-sq.-ft. store offers an immersive retail experience that celebrates sneaker culture, art and community. It blends a vast assortment of men’s and women’s sneakers from leading manufacturers with a selection of hard-to-find, niche global brands.

The interior pairs minimalist and textured design elements with technology. Exposed conduits and caged LED tube lights mix with liquid crystal wall projections that switch from clear to opaque in a moment. Meanwhile, in a front window, a digital clock counts down to exclusive, limited-edition sneaker drops.

5. Nike Live, Los Angeles

Nike puts a new spin on localization with its Nike Live format, using analytics to provide a shopping experience tailored to the area. Debuting in Los Angeles under the Nike by Melrose banner, the store’s location and merchandise assortment were selected using insights based on Nike analysis of activity and buying patterns of local members of the NikePlus loyalty program across its website and app.

Nike Live offers a more boutique, tech-enhanced shopping experience than a standard Nike store, with an array of added services that range from one-on-one personal service consultations to bra fittings to curbside order pickup. Signage and digital displays encourage customers to use their Nike app to scan barcodes for product information (including item availability and available colors) and access new features and content. They can also use the app to access an SMS messaging system that connects them to the store team.

All loyalty program members have access to the vending machine-styled “unlock box” where they can scan their member QR code every two weeks for unique Nike products and goods. The same code can be used at a set of lockers to pick up a reserved order.

6. PetCoach, San Marcos, Calif.

Petco brings its previously online-only, veterinary-led PetCoach platform to life in a brick-and-mortar setting — enhanced by digital and mobile tools — designed to address total pet health and wellness.

With only a limited, extremely curated product selection, the store is focused on service. The on-site offerings include grooming, training, veterinary care, nutrition consultations, day care, self-wash, mobile vet house calls and even dog walking.

Customers go the brand’s online platform to create custom pet profiles and book in-store service appointments (with tailored reminders). They can also access immediate professional pet health advice from licensed veterinarians, order from a vet-vetted selection of pet food and supplies, and search a library of content relevant to their pet, including their health and vaccination records, service history and more.

7. Outdoor Voices, Boston

The former digitally native activewear brand has seven carefully crafted stores — and no two look the same. Each one references its locale. The retailer’s just-opened Boston location (its first-ever in the Northeast) features a larger-than-life sculpture of a runner, a nod to the city’s famous marathon. The space merges collegiate tradition with modern details, with singled dressing rooms and displays inspired by classic locker rooms.

Outdoor Voice has a devoted following, a result of its Instagram savvy and signature color-blocked apparel. Its stores reflect the brand’s love of recreation — each one holds regular classes and group outings targeted to the favorite pastimes of the location.