In our never-ending effort to keep our readers on the cutting edge of retail, we made the sacrifice of going to New York City and shopping at Hudson’s Yard. And, before any of you ask the question many have already asked our team of shoppers, no, we did not climb up to the top of the Vessel. There was no line, because there was a massive heat wave in New York the three days we were there. But, the Vessel is impressive. If you plan on going, go earlier in the day as it won’t be as busy. You will have a great time.
In today’s modern shopping center there are two things that must be in place or you won’t have success. It is no longer sufficient to just have great retail; you have to have great entertainment and eatertainment as well. Hudson Yards hits the ball out of the park here.
All of the retailers you would expect to see in an affluent shopping area are here. Cartier, Patek Philippe, Piaget, Rolex, and Tiffany in the jewelry category are all front and center and on the first floor. It is very impressive. If I were looking for something for Terri, I would have to make this a consideration stop. In clothing there are Chanel, Dior, Coach, Dunhill, Kate Spade and Athleta to name just a few. But there are surprises as well.
This is the first shopping center I have been in where H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara are so close to each other. And, I will tell you Zara is the clear winner here. Their merchandising of the store makes the other three look drab at best. They create the value with every aspect from their windows to their service. By having all three so close you can really tell who the big winner is in this category.
There are other outstanding surprises in this shopping center. Heidi Klein, Jo Malone, Milk & Honey Babies and Rhone are really well done stores, and stores you don’t see everywhere. Bring your friend’s credit card because this is high quality merchandise. But wait, there is more.
If you have not been in a B8TA yet you must go. This may be a new way to introduce products to the world. It helps this is a high traffic mall, but this was clearly the busiest shop in the center. They take new items a consumer might have seen on e-commerce sites and let them get their hands on the product. The manufacture pays a fee to have their product shown. If you want to buy it you can. For the most part they are then shipped to your home. I went by several times on different days and the shop was swamped each time.
My favorite shop of the trip was Love-Pop. This is a greeting card store, yes a greeting card store where I spent nearly $100. They are pop up cards that are so fun. Originally seen on Shark Tank, they now have this one store. (they have holiday pop up stores during the holiday’s). They have the exact correct formula for success…great merchandise, good location, and friendly, knowledgeable people. This is a home run, but I would not expect to see one in your neighborhood anytime soon. My sense is they got a deal on the rent.
Now food is always high on my list of importance. And Hudson has you covered. There are two markets (who could live with just one.) Citarilla Gourmet Market. It is perfect for New York. Great assortment, a butcher, a baker, no candle stick maker. And then, if you go to the basement you will find Mercado Little Spain. OMG this is a beautiful place and lots of tapas restaurants as well as a paella restaurant that will blow your mind. The paella pans they use are the largest pans I have ever seen. The theater they put into this effort takes the top spot in the mall.
As for sweets, there were two hits and one miss. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream has vegan ice cream. There was a line to get into the store so you could get in line. I am not kidding. They had a security guard managing the line. That is the type of store I want. (May I see your ID, so you can get in line, please to pay me 80% gross margin). If you want all of the traditional Jewish desserts, go a couple of doors down to William Greenberg Desserts. Not only do they have black and white cookies but strawberry and blueberry and white cookies. The one miss, Dylan Candy, may have been because of my expectations. I was really expecting a unique candy store. The store was not bad, but there was NOTHING special about the store. Knowledgeable people and happy to give me a taste, but nothing I HAD to take to my granddaughter.
This is how I see retail continuing to be successful. Make shopping an experience that happens to have merchandise. Make it a fun day with treasure hunts and surprises. If you are going to be ordinary, go spend 10 dollars and get a “Going out of business sign.”
While these are high-end shops, you can do it everywhere. Look at what Target is doing with Disney. And, they are getting special merchandise from Disney to do it. Your whole store doesn’t have to be unique, but some of it must be. At Warby Parker they have WIDE glasses, WIDE Glasses I say again. I have a fat head and this is the first time I have ever seen wide glasses. Unique, but not the entire store, just a couple of SKU’s. This is not technology, it is creativity and it is what your customers are demanding of you if you expect to stay in business. It is what you have to do to earn their business.
Retail is an exciting place today, and Hudson Yards is a great place to practice your profession.
Rich Hollander is a retail expert with over 40 years in the industry.