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5 DTCs that opened up shop
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08/29/2022

5 DTCs That Opened Up Shop

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Liz Dominguez profile picture
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Retail expansion

More and more direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailers are looking to increase their presence and strengthen their brands by engaging the consumer with physical retail footprints. 

While many shoppers have moved online during the pandemic, Forrester research shows the presence of physical stores remains a strong influence. The research firm estimates that nearly three-fourths of all retail sales will take place offline and 66% of non-food-and-drink sales will happen offline in 2024. Additionally, they stated “categories that require shopper touch and feel, need in-store advice, or are unplanned small-ticket-item purchases are more likely to be bought in-store.” 

In the last year, several DTC retailers have made the switch from online only to the physical and opened up brick-and-mortar stores. These are the companies to a keep a close watch on as they provide engaging consumer experiences that stand out from the digital realm:

1. Wayfair

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Wayfair pop up shop

Wayfair launched several physical stores in 2022 and is looking to continue expanding. Earlier this year, the company stated it would open three AllModern and Joss & Main stores in Massachusetts. The first phase of the project is complete. AllModern’s first physical location is in MarketStreet Lynnfield with the second at Legacy Place in Dedham. Both of these open-air retail destinations are owned and managed by WS Development. 

The next phase is still in the works. Joss & Main will soon open in the new lifestyle space at Burlington Mall, a Simon mall in Burlington.

This was just the start for the retailer which plans to open even more stores to represent all five of its brands across multiple locations and in different formats and sizes in the next two years.

[Read more: Wayfair Fortifies Tech Leadership With New CTO at the Helm]

“At Wayfair, we are focused on creating the best possible experience for our customers. That includes meeting them wherever they are on their shopping journey and delivering the exceptional value, selection, service and inspiration they enjoy from our entire family of brands,” said Karen McKibbin, head of Physical Retail, Wayfair, during the initial announcement. 

“With our first-ever AllModern and Joss & Main retail stores, we are introducing a new kind of omnichannel shopping experience powered by the Wayfair platform, inviting our customers to engage with the brands they know and love in an innovative format that blends the best of in-store and online shopping,” McKibbin added.

The company dipped its toe into the world of physical retail beginning in 2018 with a series of pop-ups. Now the company is diving in, embracing the power of in-person shopping. During a recent call with investors, Niraj Shah, the company’s co-founder, CEO and co-chairman, said the company will continue to experiment with new specialty retail formats, followed by a larger Wayfair branded store concept in 2024. 

“It is important to bear in mind that we are very much still in a learning stage here. Our goal is to use these handful of stores as a test bed for new ideas around how and where to bring the core competencies of Wayfair to a physical shopping environment,” said Shah. “We believe the omnichannel opportunity for Wayfair is quite meaningful, but we intend to pursue it with our usual approach of testing, iterating, and proving our success before finally scaling.”

2. Shady Rays

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Shady Rays first storefront

Late last year, Shady Rays, an online lifestyle eyewear brand, brought to life its vision for a physical store. The company opened its flagship retail store, the first brick-and-mortar location, at 113 Marion inside The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 1,000 square-foot physical location features an extensive collection of frame and lens options from Shady Rays, including seasonal items like snow goggles and other wearables. The location gives consumers another way to participate in the company’s lost and broken replacement program.

The brick-and-mortar store also offers the brand’s $18 “Mystery Pair” addition to any regular-priced purchase, and allows consumers to donate to Feeding America or Global FoodBanking Network — the company contributes 10 meals for every product purchased. 

“Today, we celebrate the growth, expansion, and future of Shady Rays, not only in Lexington, but around the country,” Shady Rays CEO Chris Ratterman said during the initial announcement. “I’m honored to bring our amazing brand to our loyal customers in Lexington and throughout Kentucky. They’ve been an integral part of our brand since day one and we can’t wait for them to experience even more that Shady Rays has to offer.”

3. Borobabi

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Borobabi storefront

Borobabi, a children’s clothing retailer with a sustainable circular model, launched in 2020 with a solely-online business model. By the end of 2021, however, the company had already opened up three brick-and-mortar stores. 

In April of this year, the company opened up an additional location in Ridgewood, New Jersey and another in Nantucket. The company also launched a shop at the Short Hills Mall in March and has a shop in California. 

The company states this is the country’s first “circular retailer,” using a borrow-or-buy model where consumers can buy clothes and use them until their children outgrow them. Consumers who return items can get an in-store credit with 20% of their original purchase price. Returned items are then resold via Borobabi’s website.

“Our Discovery Shops are the only place in the United States to explore sustainable children’s styles and see circular retail in action,” said founder Carolyn Butler. “We’re building a home for slow-fashion families to connect; a place to find conscious designs, then bring back your outgrown clothes and swap up for your next size, knowing that every item you return starts a new loop for up to four other families who follow.”

While launching digitally gave the brand an advantage due to the startup’s community-focused interactions via social media and its blog In The Loop, the company knew it needed a concrete location centralized around a population with “a considerable palette for conscious lifestyle choices.”

[Borabi Named a 2022 Hot Retail Startup]

The company leveraged a “summer road trip” campaign to identify areas where a retail location would make the biggest impact. The road trip showcased American companies and individuals “dedicated to providing consumers with sustainable circular economies, particularly those that maximize profit while simultaneously protecting the environment.”

“Due to the pandemic, our first year of growth was exclusively online, where we leveraged word of mouth, social media and original content to increase brand awareness,” said Butler earlier this year.“Once quarantine restrictions were lifted we were able to test and expand on our in person discovery experience.”

4. Wilson Sporting Goods

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Wilson Sporting Goods store in NYC

Last summer, the sporting goods store jumped into the world of physical retail by placing its stamp in Chicago, the brand’s hometown. Launching a 2,247 square-foot store, the company created a museum-like environment with tech add-ons to create an elevated shopping experience for consumers. 

"With 108 years of history here in Chicago, it was only right that we start this next chapter in our hometown," said Joe Dudy, president of Wilson Sporting Goods Co. during the launch "Wilson is so proud to be Chicago-based, and we hope this new store brings our city that same feeling of pride in our brand."

Like Wayfair, Wilson Sporting Goods began its journey in physical retail by launching several pop-up stores, this time tied to sporting events like the Super Bowl, College World Series, and the U.S. Open. 

At the time, the company said it would continue expanding its retail footprint with flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Shanghai. The inaugural New York store just opened at the beginning of the year. In-store services include a full-time racket stringing maestro, leather ball customization, a golf simulator, and glove personalization. 

A second NYC store, located in the Upper East Side, opened this summer. The 8,000-square-feet of retail space, across two-floors, features Wilson's first-ever "Equipment Room," where shoppers can rent eligible products to test before purchasing. A third NYC location is slated to open this year.

"New York continues to be a priority market for Wilson as we expand our retail footprint," said Gordon Devin, president and general manager, Wilson Brand. "From permanent retail locations to pop-ups, we will celebrate athletes of all levels and offer them the best of Wilson, ranging from premium products to curated experiences."

5. Karl's Fishing & Outdoors

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Karl's storefront

Karl's Fishing & Outdoors opened its first brick-and-mortar store in June. The 2,500-square-foot storefront combines physical retail with engaging and interactive digital experiences. The tech-enabled store allows consumers to touch and feel baits and see how they act underwater. The store also ties into the community, hosting fishing lessons and meetups, philanthropic events, and entertainment.

To drum up excitement, the brand held a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by Karl Von Dibble, "chief fishing officer.” The company also invited several influencers and fishing celebrities, also hosting the brand's Bassmobile, a 40-foot bass on wheels.

"The Karl's Fishing & Outdoors flagship store promises to deliver an experience that hasn't been seen in the outdoor category," said Teeg Stouffer, director of retail experience, Catch Co. "The clean, simple design, and tech-enhanced features make it an intimidation-free shopping experience – even for those who are new to fishing and outdoor activities – or the perfect place to find a gift for the outdoorsperson in your life."

Karl's plans to expand with stores across the U.S. Its second location is slated to open later this year at Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"When we started Catch Co. 10 years ago, our goal was to help people discover quality products that would help them get outside and enjoy nature," said Ross Gordon, founder and CEO of Catch Co. "Opening our first Karl's Fishing & Outdoors store takes our mission to the next level by creating a shared space for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to connect, learn about new products and ultimately embrace their passion for the outdoors."

More Brands to Watch

    SavageXFenty

    Rihanna-owned SavageXFenty is opening brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S. in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Rihanna shared the news of the 2022 openings on her Instagram, portraying renderings with neon lighting and a nightclub feel.  

     

    Genesis Auto

    Genesis opened its first standalone retail location in the U.S., featuring a transparent, open floorplan, an indoor vehicle delivery area, and infrastructure to support the upcoming portfolio of Electrified Genesis models. Consumers can also review material samples, vehicle specs, and more within a private brand cube.

     

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