By GREGORY ZELLER //
With the holiday shopping season spooling up, and brick-and-mortar retailers facing ever-stiffening e-commerce competition, an innovative “turnkey retail platform” is set to debut at Roosevelt Field.
Simon Property Group, the Indiana-based manager of an enormous global portfolio of retail and entertainment destinations, is preparing to flip the switch on The Edit@Roosevelt Field, a first-of-its-kind “experiential retail space that blurs the lines of physical space,” Simon says.
Metaphysical anomalies notwithstanding, The Edit@Roosevelt Field mixes established sellers and up-and-coming brands – including some previously available only through online channels – in an interactive space designed to engage modern consumers who might find the idea of picking through a J.C. Penney somewhat antiquated.
The Millennial shopper may have little interest in department stores, but s/he still digs the mall, according to Josh Udashkin, CEO of Raden Smart Luggage, a New York City-based 2016 startup featuring light, super-sturdy suitcases outfitted with weight sensors, built-in phone chargers and a host of additional “travel tech.”
With his 21st century luggage among the first products slated to rotate through The Edit@Roosevelt Field when it officially opens in November, Udashkin – who labels the mall “an under-penetrated market for new brands that should be taken advantage of” – senses a golden opportunity.
“Raden strongly believes in the power of the mall,” the CEO said. “There is a lot of foot traffic in malls with different customers to reach.”
Designed by NYC-based retail-space specialist O’Neil Langan Architects, The Edit@Roosevelt Field puts the “mall” in “malleable,” changing shape to match different featured brands at different times. Products will be displayed in “micro retail units” ranging from 20 to 200 square feet, with the platform providing all the retailing essentials – custom-designed modular fixtures, digital media walls, even staffers for brands that don’t provide their own.
The idea is to provide the best of e-commerce – strategic product curation, disruptive positioning, online efficiency – in a dynamic real-world space surrounded by potential customers, and to keep those customers engaged by keeping the wares in constant motion.
In addition to providing a unique commerce experience for customers, the model also allows upstart brands to “come to market faster and more visibly than ever before,” according to Zachary Beloff, Simon Property Group’s national director of business development.
“Our customers will be able to experience and interact with new brands like never before,” Beloff noted, including interaction with “brand ambassadors” – sometimes in the employ of the brands themselves, sometimes Simon Property Group staffers, but always on hand to provide product information and convert sales.
To attract new brands to the mix, Simon Property Group has partnered with Appear Here, a UK-based broker of pop-up shops and retail rentals in London, Paris, NYC and other international cities.
Appear Here is “thrilled” to promote “digitally native brands in a physical space,” according to Elizabeth Layne, the broker’s chief marketing officer, who suggested it was no accident that the next-generation retail platform is testing the waters at Roosevelt Field, which boasts more than 2.2 million square feet of leasable space and is still anchored by a major-league retail roster including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Long Island’s first (and only) Neiman Marcus, which opened in 2016.
“The Edit@Roosevelt Field is the perfect place for emerging brands to build brand awareness in a prime retail destination just outside New York City,” Layne said in a statement.
Expected to join Raden Smart Luggage on the platform’s inaugural spin are products by iPhone-accessory startup Skinnydip London, Canadian menswear brand Vitaly Design, Connecticut-based athletic gear enterprise Rhone Apparel and a host of NYC-based startups: beauty brand Winky Lux, pants-holder-upper Beltology, inventive dessert-maker Jars by Dani and contemporary art gallery Uprise Art.
Many of these brands have cut their teeth online exclusively, making them ideal partners/test subjects for The Edit@Roosevelt Field’s debut.
“This concept is a design-centric, experience driven and completely transitional place to discover new product and technology in a brick-and-mortar space,” Beloff said.
That sounds about right to Udashkin, whose Raden Smart Luggage has emerged as an e-commerce hit – and with the holiday shopping season gearing up, is ready for some quality time in the field.
“We are a brand that wants to reach new customers where they are already predisposed to shopping,” the CEO said. “We could not be more excited to be a part of The Edit@Roosevelt Field.”