This home appliance store lets you take a bath or cook a pizza before deciding to buy its products -- here's what it's like to shop there

Pirch 4993Sarah JacobsAt Pirch, you can test various showerheads with just the swipe of an iPad.

Pirch is redefining what it means to try before you buy. The startup retail company just opened a massive new store in SoHo, Manhattan’s most shopping-centric neighbourhood, and it’s packed with fun, interactive gadgets.

The gimmick: All of the home appliances and fixtures that Pirch sells actually work in the store, so you can experience them firsthand and imagine them in your own home. The refrigerators are chilled, the faucets and showerheads run water, the ovens beep, and the washers wash.

Pirch was co-founded in 2009 by two formerly retired executives in the home and real estate development business, CEO Jeffery Sears and chairman Jim Stuart. Both men had similarly terrible experiences trying to buy home fixtures and appliances. In 2011, they opened the first Pirch store in San Diego. Later, they would open eight more across the country.

Pirch offers a completely different shopping experience. Let’s take a tour through its brand-new SoHo location, which was built in an old metalworks building. It’s one of the biggest stores in the neighbourhood, and the company’s largest location yet.

Pirch focuses on three areas of home appliances: the kitchen, the bathroom, and the outdoor space. All of its merchandise is laid out in a highly interactive space. 'We thought, 'How would we want to be treated?', and so we built a place where people were received as guests,' CEO Jeffery Sears said to Business Insider.

Sarah Jacobs

Pirch is attempting to disrupt what it says is a $40 billion luxury appliances market. Pirch has raised a total of $127 million in venture capital, including $62.8 million from L Catterton, who also previously invested in Restoration Hardware.

Any shopping trip at Pirch starts with a stop at the Bliss Cafe, a full-service coffee counter that's stocked with complimentary cappuccinos, cucumber water, and lemonade that customers can grab as they enter the store.

Sarah Jacobs

From the cafe, you are free to move around the three levels of the 32,000-square-foot store. Everything is interactive, from the running faucets to the beeping dishwashers. 'Look but don't touch' does not apply here whatsoever.

Sarah Jacobs

The appliances are set up in what the company calls 'vignettes' so that the customer can imagine what each might look like in their own home. 'It's all about imagining what's possible,' Pirch CMO Laith Murad told us while giving us a tour of the new store. All Pirch employees must attend a week-long training seminar in San Diego called 'Elements', where they become experts in the company's retail philosophy.

Sarah Jacobs

According to the listing for this particular retail space, the monthly rental price asked $5 million.

Sarah Jacobs

Source: The Real Deal

Though some products, like this extremely high-end La Cornue oven, retail for tens of thousands of dollars, Pirch says its prices are in line with manufacturer-suggested prices.

Sarah Jacobs

Besides high-end appliances, the company also sells items like this wine keg that will keep open bottles of wine fresh for weeks.

Sarah Jacobs

Pirch doesn't sell commonplace things like cabinets, flooring, or backsplash tiling, and claims it likes to instead focus on the items that bring 'joy' into the home.

Sarah Jacobs

You'll find this motif plastered throughout the store. It echoes the company's motto to 'Live Joyfully'.

Sarah Jacobs

What you won't see much of is information. Though the prices for all displayed units can be found on wall placard to the side, it's not exactly near the showroom unit. Neither are other details like wattage or sizing. 'We don't talk about BTUs and things that don't make any sense,' Sears told us.

Sarah Jacobs

Though the ovens you see in the staged vignettes are not operational, once you venture over to the test kitchen, you'll find ovens that are. A head chef is on hand during business hours, spinning out everything from roasted chicken ...

Sarah Jacobs

... to wood-fired pizza. You can sign up for cooking classes at the store, or just grab a slice as you wander around the space.

Sarah Jacobs

Pirch says it focuses on the higher end of appliances, starting where Lowe's and Home Depot leave off, and overlapping some.

Sarah Jacobs

This Samsung refrigerator is a good example of what you'll find on the lower end of Pirch's offerings. Pirch makes it a point not to upcharge for its showroom experience, compared to retailers that sell similar items.

Sarah Jacobs

Downstairs, things are a little brighter. Pirch says the average customer spends roughly two hours in the stores before leaving.

Sarah Jacobs

The constant drip of this water feature makes for a soothing entrance into the area, where the bathroom fixtures are on full display.

Sarah Jacobs

As before, the showers are plumbed and functional. The in-shower TV is wired for cable.

Sarah Jacobs

The motion-sensing toilets wink at you as you pass by, but they are not functional, perhaps for obvious reasons.

Sarah Jacobs

Things get a lot more interesting when you enter the area known as the 'Sanctuary', which has a full spa and can be closed off from the rest of the store.

Sarah Jacobs

Every showerhead Pirch sells is on display in a row. You can use an iPad to turn on different showers alternately, so you can see exactly how water might come out of them.

Sarah Jacobs

For a funky faucet like this one, it might be useful to see how it works beforehand.

Sarah Jacobs

The brave can strip down and get right under the rainfall showerhead to test it -- provided, of course, they make prior arrangements with the store.

Sarah Jacobs

The shower has a steam setting and an aromatherapy function.

Sarah Jacobs

A Jacuzzi, too, is available for testing in the Sanctuary.

Sarah Jacobs

On the third floor, Pirch has outdoor kitchens set up with posh grills.

Sarah Jacobs

There's also a large vignette meant to resemble a small New York-style apartment, complete with smart home technology.

Sarah Jacobs

Sears says it's all about the in-store experience. 'We don't sell online because we don't believe these products should be bought online,' he told us. Everything Pirch sells is also handled and installed by the company, and comes complete with its own extended warranty.

Sarah Jacobs

Pirch is currently in the process of launching a new website so that the playful experience can be continued online.

Sarah Jacobs

Before coming to Soho, Pirch sought to educate itself about the neighbourhood and its history. Each of its conference rooms (also known as'Dream Rooms') are named after local landmarks, like Ladder 20, the fire station down the street from the store. 'I had a lot of people warn us that (coming to New York) was going to be brutal and difficult, and it was the opposite,' Sears said.

Sarah Jacobs

Pirch doesn't typically advertise when it enters a new market, instead relying on word of mouth. For the New York location, the company tapped 14 design and lifestyle celebrities -- including Nate Berkus, Andy Cohen, and Iris Apfel -- to be the faces of a new ad campaign that it plastered in the city's subways.

Sarah Jacobs

The brand apparently has lots of fans already. To celebrate the opening of the store, Pirch invited New York City's design and home building community to a party held in the space. Over 1,200 people RSVP'd to the event, and the store was packed head to toe with industry professionals in their finest networking attire.

Sarah Jacobs

The company plans to expand with four new stores stores every year. This would add an estimated 75,000 square feet of floor space per year, according to Pirch. Its revenue for 2015 reached $225 million, nearly doubling its growth year over year.

Sarah Jacobs

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