Retail Safari: New York City 2019

While visiting NRF in New York, Caroline Baldwin explored some of the city’s most interesting stores. Here is her selection with a Google Map for those who want to visit the stores:

Converse SoHo
Converse SoHo

Converse Soho

Footwear brand Converse’s SoHo flagship is a huge warehouse space that allows lots of breathing space. An area of the store dedicated to gaming encourages customers to try out their video game basketball skills, on giant screens.

Downstairs the Converse Workshop allows shoppers to play with a seemingly endless array of fabrics and designs, to customise their personal shoes, from same day printing to six-week fabric production.

Converse Flagship Store 560 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

The Dreamery by Casper
The Dreamery by Casper

The Dreamery by Casper

The online mattress market has ballooned, but not everyone is comfortable to buy without trying. Pop-up stores from the likes of Casper were introduced to reassure such customers by letting them get hands-on. After a number of pop-ups – including one in London – Casper now has a number of permanent stores, including its Dreamery branch on New York's Mercer Street.

The spacious store features a number of what can only be described as adult-sized wooden wendy houses, in various pastel colours. As well as being perfect Instagram fodder, these provide literal test beds for Casper’s various mattress products. The store has several tablet devices for browsing the entire range and making purchases.

And it isn’t called The Dreamery for nothing. Casper has included pods at the back of the store where visitors can book a 45 minute ‘nap session’ online and pop-in for a spot of shuteye. The brand’s website suggests: “Wind down in the lounge, change into PJs, and lie down in your own Casper Nook — a perfectly private, quiet pod with an outrageously comfortable bed.”

The Dreamery by Casper 196 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

American Eagle
American Eagle

American Eagle Studio

In late 2017 US fashion retailer American Eagle Outfitters celebrated its 40th anniversary with a new store concept on Union Square. The American Eagle Studio focuses on a hot trend: customisation.

Customers browse seemingly endless aisles of the denim, with iPad minis used for digital signage. When making a purchase they are offered free personalisation services to create truly personal jeans. Sewing machines - and more iPads, which guide shoppers through the personalisation experience – mean the bespoke changes can be made immediately, and 15 minutes later their jeans have been stitched and are ready to share via social media.

Further technology in this store includes digital concierge iPads in the changing rooms, offering an easy way to ask for help from a human. The iPad also features a bar code scanner so shoppers can scan products for more information or options, as well as calculate basket spend as they shop.

Most obviously the store also features a laundrette where students can do their laundry for free and while they wait they can “hang out with friends or study in the studio bar and seating area and enjoy the view of Union Square”.

American Eagle Studio 19 Union Square W, New York, NY 10003

Fujifilm Wonder Photo Shop

Smartphones have fundamentally changed consumer habits regarding photography, rendering traditional cameras redundant to everyone apart from dedicated hobbyists and professional photographers.

From selfies to holiday snaps – or even quick pictures of car park bay numbers in case we forget them – photographs have become an important and functional part of our daily lives.

Fujifilm understands this and wants to get people excited about film again, or at least get people to print some of the thousands of photos being stored on their phones.

However, nobody gets excited by the options available for printing images.

Fujifilm’s Wonder Photo Shop has digital kiosks to aid in printing images, but this bulky technology demystified by blending in bright colours, wooden fittings and comfortable sofas. Large digital screens helps to demonstrate hero products , while the store also offers photography workshops.

Fujifilm Wonder Photo Shop 176 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Amazon Books

In a space that feels like a hybrid of a traditional book shop and an Apple store, Amazon Books presents traditional paperback books sit on shelves next to the e-readers that some thought would spell the end of the printed word.

This store softens digital signage with wooden finishes and a coffee shop that mathces the laid back feel of the store.

Amazon Books 7 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

Also worth noting is Amazon’s 4-Star store in Soho (72 Spring St, New York, NY 10012), which curates a selection of products rated four stars or higher by Amazon customers.

Sephora 34th Street

Cosmetics brand Sephora’s largest store houses more than 13,000 products and a wealth of in-store technology.

Interactive screens blend with Sephora’s black and white colour palette, all brightly lit. Tablet devices guide customers to their ideal shade of foundation, with links to a ‘skincare IQ test’ to measures skin moisture levels with a handheld machine.

Augmented reality (AR) mirrors allow customers to virtually try on looks if they have don't time for an online appointment with a beauty advisor. 

Sephora x Google – a prominent collaboration with the online search giant - integrates shopping and beauty video tutorials via the Google Home Hub. Customers can play with the devices in store (and also purchase if they wish). Meanwhile, customisation is on offer here too, with a desk that allows shoppers to have perfume bottles engraved with a personal message.

Sephora 112 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001


Nike House of Innovation 000

This futuristic warehouse space feels more like a cross between a museum and a laboratory than it does a shop. Store assistants wear white lab coats. Plain white trainers are displayed under glass to show the stages of designing them, from the famous Nike tick to the shade of the laces.


Customers can book onto a masterclass session to experiencethis process, in a glass room, personalising their own trainers while an audience of shoppers looks in through the clear walls. 


The rest of the  6,317 sq m (68,000 sq ft) space is dedicated to shoppimg, with a sprinkling of technology to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. However, most of this technology is out of sight.

On closer inspection there are a few calls to action to download the Nike app. This transforms the experience of the store by providing access to a locker to pick-up online orders, or the ability to scan a shoe to request your size so you can try it on. And if your mission is to just quickly buy a pair of trainers, it is possible to purchase them on the app and walk out of the shop.

Nike House of Innovation 000 650 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

Here’s a link to our Google Map with all the locations of the above stores. And for more insights, check out the hashtag #ERstoretourNYC on Twitter.