New York's finest
A visual tour of the Big Apple’s standout stores as 2024 gets underway.
Discover the best of New York’s retail scene in 2024! From Crate & Barrel’s revamped flagship to Petco’s pet-centric haven, Wegmans’ downtown grocery experience, Glossier’s digital beauty gem, and Banana Republic’s temporary luxe space on Broadway. Join us for a snapshot of the city’s vibrant and evolving shopping landscape.
1. Crate & Barrel, 881 Broadway
Recently relocated from a site a little further south on Broadway, Crate & Barrel’s New York flagship is is on the site of a building formerly dubbed the “Palace of Trade” and the description fits well with the new occupant.
Standing at the front of this one, a long row of whitewashed cast iron pillars command the mid-shop view, taking the eye through the whole of the ground floor, allowing views of furniture and homewares, the dominant characteristic of which is that it is cream or white. As such, the store has much that might remind the onlooker of RH (Restoration Hardware) whose downtown store, in the Meatpacking district, also takes ‘neutral’ as a merchandise starting point, the difference being that Crate & Barrel is determinedly mid-market, for which read very much cheaper.
Also worth noting are the marble-topped mid-shop island cash and wrap counters that make a feature of payment.
Downstairs, a design service, larger pieces of furniture and the retailer’s Crate & Kids (the clue’s in the name) make up the rest of this two-floor, 2136 sq m store.
2. Petco, Union Square
A retailer operating more than 1500 stores across the whole of the US as well as Mexico and Puerto Rico, this is the largest Petco store to date. Located within the historic Tammany Hall, this 2322 sq m two-floor, ground and first, store is perhaps as much about the pet owner as it is the dog or cat for which there are thousands of products and services on offer.
Practically, this means everything from a self-wash station for dogs (“Wash. Dry. Wag”) to a fitting table where Fido/Rex can be sure to have the best harness/leash, it’s a bespoke service. Other elements that might be mentioned include a digital name tag engraver; a backlit wall-high graphic detailing all of Manhattan’s “pooch-friendly” parks and a doggy supermarket and a place where “real” food, created by chefs and vets is sold, bearing something in common with the delis that are a hallmark of this city.
All of which is not cheap, but then if you can afford to live and exercise your dog in any neighbourhood close to Union Square, money is unlikely to be too much of a problem.
3. Wegmans, Astor Place
Whole Foods Market has pretty much had things all its own way, as far as better-end supermarket shopping in Manhattan is concerned, for a long time. Since November, however, it has a rival in the shape of East Coast grocer Wegmans (which already has a store in Brooklyn that opened four years ago) and this two-floor, 8129 sq m giant represents genuine change for downtown food shoppers.
The smaller ground floor is all about prepared food and food-to-go and this is where the checkouts, SCOs mostly, are located. Whether it’s tomahawk steaks or sushi, this part of the store is Wegman’s ‘on the go’ area. It is also where a restaurant and champagne bar will open later this year.
Downstairs, the much larger floor is about produce, ambient products and a Japanese-style fresh fish market (with all of the fish flown in from Tokyo daily). Whether it’s a complete gondola-end offering nothing but hummus, or a perimeter module devoted to eggs, this is a store that is about abundance and merchandising of the kind that makes every shelf look like a computer rendering at the beginning of the day and then with enough staff to keep things looking that way.
4. Glossier, Spring Street, SoHo
The New York-headquartered online beauty brand actually closed its sole store in the city during Covid, but since last year it has been up and running once again as a physical entity, in SoHo’s Spring Street.
This is a store that lies in that grey area somewhere between physical and online, but the interior is anything but monotone. Modelled on a New York subway train, complete with a tiled wannabe station wall bearing the station name, “You Look Good”, this is about tempting shoppers with samples that are on display and then driving them to talk to a sales associate who will seal the deal with a handheld device.
The whole affair is digital and once a purchase has been made, a large, circular waiting area with curved banquettes is used by those waiting for their purchase to be picked from behind the scenes and then collected when the buyer’s name is shouted out. Simple really, but a real retail jewel of lower Manhattan.
5. Banana Republic, Broadway, SoHo
The upscale fashion (and lately homewares and furniture) brand that comes from the Gap Inc. stable is in fact a temporary store being used while the BR premises almost directly across Broadway are refurbished, a process that is set to take around a year.
That said, this two-floor store neither looks nor feels in any way temporary and the understated, but glossy entrance, featuring a suspended basket, leads shopper into an interior in which fashion is mixed with furniture and homewares in the same space. Everything that’s on view can be bought and all sales associates carry handheld devices turning them into mobile checkouts.
All of which means this is not cheap, but it does have the polish of a true luxury environment. If cash and wrap is required, a room for the purpose is hidden away in the basement – nothing is allowed to spoil the slick line that is the hallmark of the new look Banana Republic.
Mixing fashion and furniture is also something that very few others, to date, have tried.
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