Retail shop? Hotel? Coffee shop? Those are simple concepts and LA's shoppers aren't simple: Yhey’re more demanding, more socially aware, and more conscious of what's on offer when it comes to eating, sleeping, and being entertained than many other markets' consumers.
That's why brands need to sell a lifestyle. Which is also why so many brands are embracing the idea of a "concept space," a hotel, cafe, shop, gallery, or event space that brings a brand to life through ideas of community and activity -- while, of course, selling product.
The TOMS flagship store in Venice, which opened in 2012, showed early on that the company was about much more than selling slip-on shoes. Already the innovator in socially responsible brands, TOMS was founded to give back a pair of shoes to children in need, for every pair bought -- and has expanded its company causes to providing eyeglasses, light, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to those in need.
But the store on Abbot Kinney does much more than that: It sells coffee, juice, and baked goods, and boasts free Wi-Fi and space for anyone from startups to nonprofits. The space sells the company's shoes, sunglasses, bags, shirts, socks, and Apple Watch bands. There are also a number of free community events each week, from yoga and live music, to craft and film nights. The shop is a natural way to spread the TOMS brand throughout the community without shoving its products down your throat. And Venice residents can feel good about shopping while giving back.
Another brand taking it to the next level with the concept shop is luxury home goods line Parachute. Longtime residents of Venice may never have expected that their low-key neighborhood would eventually be home to a hotel that averages $840 a night. But they were wrong.
The one-penthouse Parachute Hotel opened in October of this year above the online retailer's first physical store, which opened in May. Parachute's line of bedroom and bathroom goods is designed in Venice, so it was a natural fit for the brand to set up shop there.
"I think building and creating experiences where people can become immersed with the brand is really special," said Parachute CEO Ariel Kaye. "I've always believed that the physical connection is really powerful, but it really pushed us over the line to help us create these physical spaces where people can experience the brand in really authentic ways."
The hotel imagines Parachute's perfect home all the way from the pictures on the walls to the plates in the kitchen. "The focus is not on selling our products," said Kaye. "The focus is on creating an environment where people can create memories."
There is a card by the bedside table that tells guests what they're sleeping on or looking at and they can take it to the store below to get a discount on any purchases. Naturally the store has seen an increase in sales since the opening of the hotel. "We had one guest who said, 'I don't know that I took off the bathrobe the entire stay,'" before checking out and purchasing one in the shop.
The hotel is currently "quite booked" according to Kaye, with guests who are fans of the brand or are just discovering the line, as well as two to three private events a week, which range from dinner parties to baby showers to photo shoots to corporate retreats.
Hotel rates start at $650 a night with a two-night minimum stay. Corporate rates start at $1,500 and the space can hold up to 75 people. The hotel has been so successful for the brand that it's already planning on expanding the concept into other cities as it expands its line of goods into other housewares. "It's had a very positive impact on the brand, getting people to see a different side of who we are," said Kaye.
Out in Hollywood, Space 15 Twenty in LA was home to a rotating slew of pop-up shops before Urban Outfitters made it its first-ever concept store, which mixes its signature retail with events, performances, art shows, and pop-up shops while keeping its millennial core base in mind. A variety of recents events included a Friendsgiving donation drive for Los Angeles Youth Network, a floral-arranging class, a sound bath meditation course, and free movie (The Goonies) and karaoke nights.
If you ever wanted to decorate your apartment like an Urban Outfitters catalog, its home line of furniture on display here is the place for you. The space is meant to be a full-day shopping experience with everything you need in one place. Also present in the space: an Umami Burger, Hairroin Salon, and Pharmacy Boardshop.
And of course, Ace Hotel has been an innovator in pairing its hotels with hip retail shops, drool-worthy restaurants, or music clubs. But its location in Downtown LA is the first one to house a theater, and an incredible one at that.
The United Artists theater was originally created by silent-movie starlet Mary Pickford along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith, who dreamed of creating a production house outside of the studio system. The United Artists theater changed hands frequently throughout its history, including stints as a Spanish-language movie house and broadcast site for televangelist Dr. Gene Scott.
After an in-depth restoration, the Theatre at Ace Hotel opened in Feb 2014, aiming to serve Downtown LA’s thriving arts scene. The space now averages 120 shows a year with over 200,000 tickets sold. While the hotel says that the theater has not been instrumental in hotel occupancy, many out-of-town theater guests choose to spend the night at the hotel.
Welcoming locals and visitors nightly, the theater helps to spread the arts vision of the Ace Hotel. On any night of the week you may find a variety of events like movie screenings, comedy shows, dance shows, concerts, and book readings.
And, naturally in LA, the the company concept space is a natural fit for the healthy lifestyle brand, a one-stop shop for juice, workouts, and shopping. Alo Yoga knows that the best way to sell $125 leggings is to sell the lifestyle that goes along with it. Its bright and airy flagship store in Beverly Hills is right at home just a stone's throw from Rodeo Drive. The staff is decked out in the brand's uber-fashionable workout ensembles.
A cafe offers a who's-who menu of the LA health-food scene: cold-pressed Raw Juicery juice, Health-Ade kombucha, and Cafe Gratitude snacks. There's also Stumptown coffee, but only the organic variety. A rooftop deck offers yoga classes on the hour from some of the city's best teachers. ClassPassers can book classes there before they cancel their monthly memberships.
Angelenos are used to the weekly pop-up concept stores that try to bring a new face to a brand. But get used to your next holiday party being held at a bedding store, shopping for furniture while getting a haircut, or starting that juice cleanse at your next yoga class. The company concept space is here -- and you're the one that's buying.
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