While attending the 2018 National Retail Federation Retail’s Big Show in January at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, I visited STORY, a store just a few blocks away in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that was getting buzz at the show. Most of the industry leaders who speak or are featured at the annual trade show and share best practices are massive, international companies, like Walmart, Chobani and CVS, direct-to-consumer “box” brands, or companies that are using technology to change how they do business.
STORY is tiny by comparison, as it has one location housed in a 2,000-square-foot, ground-floor space. It does not sell products online or specialize in tech gadgets. What it offers instead is a completely different shopping experience. Every four to eight weeks it reinvents itself, redesigning the store and changing up the product mix based on a theme, like Wellness, Disrupt, or most recently, “The Greatest Showman,” the inspiration for its annual Home for the Holidays story. In order to pull this off, the store must close for two to three weeks to prepare new stories, but fans know to check ahead before shopping. The Washington Post reported that the day STORY opened its holiday-themed store, despite cold, rainy weather, there was a line around the block.
On its website, STORY explains that “We take the point of view of a magazine, change like a gallery and sell things like a store.” Sales associates are “Storytellers,” and they welcome each guest into the store.
For founder Rachel Shechtman, a former brand consultant for major brands like Kraft and TOMS shoes, “the idea was to create a retail concept that would serve as a matchmaker between brands and consumers, integrating strategies of marketing, merchandising, and business development,” and to provide a “view of retail that goes beyond the transaction and a permanent space where the experience is everything and collaboration tells a STORY.”
Here are some highlights from our visit to the store on Jan. 15, the final day of the Home for the Holidays story. — Michelle Simakis