- Traditional department stores are struggling to stay afloat as consumers increasingly turn toward e-commerce and foot traffic to malls declines.
- Neighbourhood Goods, a trendy new marketplace that opened last week in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, is attempting to subvert the retail status quo with its take on a “new type of department store.”
- “We wanted to test this thematic and communal approach to retail and provide a platform for younger companies that really wanted to dabble with popups,” founder Matt Alexander told Business Insider.
- We visited the store just a week after its official opening. Here’s what it’s like inside.
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Department stores may be on their deathbed, but the trendy curated marketplace concept is thriving.
Neighbourhood Goods, a self-proclaimed “new type of department store,” officially opened its doors in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood last week, becoming the latest in a rapidly growing list of buzzy experiential retail stores across the country.
Embedded within Chelsea Market’s dizzying array of gourmet food vendors and retail boutiques, Neighbourhood Goods features more than 40 brands in categories that range across apparel, beauty, home goods, pet products, and fitness. It’s the second location for the company, which first got its start in Plano, Texas, in November 2018.
Companies like Neighbourhood Goods are increasingly serving as a blueprint for traditional retailers to start experimenting with their own popup concepts as they try to bolster dwindling foot traffic. Macy’s, for example, opened Story this year, dedicating a section of select stores to rotating themes of curated products, while Nordstrom recently integrated “pop-in” shops featuring DTC brands like Everlane and Glossier.
The arrival of Neighbourhood Goods also comes just six months after the debut of Showfields, the gargantuan four-story retail space in Soho that features a rotating assortment of buzzy direct-to-consumer products. While both are similar in construction – with their Instagrammable aesthetics and shelves brimming with items made by up-and-coming brands – Neighbourhood Goods delivers a more “communal” vibe, according to founder Matt Alexander.
“We wanted to test this thematic and communal approach to retail and provide a platform for younger companies that really wanted to dabble with popups,” Alexander told Business Insider.
We visited the store on a recent weekday morning, just a week after it opened. Here’s what it’s like inside.
Neighbourhood Goods is located in Chelsea Market, a tourist hotbed of dining and retail experiences in the heart of Manhattan.
Shoppers can access the store both from 9th Avenue and from inside Chelsea Market itself.
We opted to come in through the inside, and found the entryway aglow.
Once inside, we immediately spotted Pop Up Grocer, a hip “travelling grocery” store that sells products like beet and thyme cookies and CBD snacks.
Alexander said the brand assortment and product selection is carefully curated to cater to respective consumer demographics. So while there is some overlap in inventory between the New York City and Plano stores, each has been specifically customised.
“It’s very taste based,” Alexander told Business Insider. “We capture a huge amount of data and really focus on what we believe can be relevant to a given market, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to a real human curatorial process. “
As we wandered through the store, we found a robust skincare and beauty section.
There was even a sink for shoppers to test out the different products.
The section had a wide array of products …
… including ample offerings for men.
Scattered throughout the store were various wrapping stations featuring bags in a millennial pink hue.
The space itself was warmly lit and organised in an aesthetically pleasing and efficient manner that made it easy to browse from among the more than 40 featured brands.
“We wanted to test this thematic and communal approach to retail and provide a platform for some of these younger companies that really wanted to dabble with popups,” Alexander told Business Insider.
A view of the denim bar, lined with a smattering of candles from the hip brand Boy Smells.
There were several friendly sales associates milling about to answer questions and explain the Neighbourhood Goods concept.
There was even a room for little ones, featuring clothing by The Tot.
We found a variety of buzzy direct-to-consumer apparel brands like DSTLD, Modern Citizen, and Mott & Bow.
The store has a specific hand-selected quality and thematic vibe that feels different from similar spaces in Manhattan, like Canal Street Market and Showfields, both located in what some fashion insiders refer to as “DTC alley.”
“So many of the brands we work with open popup and tests in Soho,” Alexander said. “They all do quite well and it’s an interesting area, but there’s a huge amount of vacancy. Landlords aren’t necessarily willing to have these brands sign longer term leases and the traffic’s a little bit turbulent, which poses some challenges.”
We also spotted this amazing jacket by The Arrivals.
Wood paneling throughout the store gave it somewhat of a rustic feel.
The store had a lot of spunk and whimsy in its product selection
The most well-known brand in Neighbourhood Goods was Fossil, which featured celestial-themed jewellery and accessories on display.
It even featured a machine for customisation and engraving …
… and, of course, its classic watches.
You’re not a true trendy marketplace until you have a Rothy’s shoe wall.
We were particularly drawn to this wall of UrbanStems plants toward the back of the store.
As we headed toward the exit, we stumbled upon a tutorial of Tonal, the nearly $US4,000 high-tech, at-home workout machine.
Tonal employee Kristin Gambell walked us through the system and demonstrated the digitally connected exercises.
Here is Kristin demonstrating a shoulder press with Tonal.
You can check out a review of the Tonal experience from Business Insider’s very own Katie Canales.
Beyond Tonal, we didn’t find any other tech products aside from this assortment of Master & Dynamic headphones.
Near the plant wall, we found a collection of Instagram famous Homesick candles, designed to smell like particular locations and states.
We were expecting the New York candle to smell like trash, but it was actually quite delightful.
For tuckered-out shoppers, there’s a couch to rest your weary bones.
Eventually our time came to bid farewell to Neighbourhood Goods, though we plan to come back.
Next up, Neighbourhood Goods plans to open up shop in Austin, Texas in 2020, with the potential for additional cities moving forward.