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Amazon's Brick & Mortar Bookstore Is Coming To Columbus Circle

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Image: Amazon.com

Say goodbye to the Armani Exchange at The Shops at Columbus Circle.
Later this year, that 4,000 square foot space on the third floor will be transformed into New York City's first permanent Amazon Bookstore. While you would probably need the entirety of Time Warner Center's retail space to display a full array of what Amazon offers online, the bookstore is expected to primarily serve to showcase the company's proprietary products like Kindle and Alexa, along with a curated selection of books. It will be more the size of the B.Dalton or Waldenbooks chain stores that some us remember, than the sprawling Borders that once existed only a few steps away. Whether or not Amazon aims to eventually repopulate some of the newly available retail space in malls all over the country remains to be seen, but the upcoming branch won't be the only one coming to the area. Amazon is also officially coming to Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. The two stores will be the seventh and eighth Amazon Bookstores that have been announced which makes the brick and mortar chain still a tiny offshoot of the online giant which currently has three stores open in San Diego, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Now the question to be answered will be whether New Yorkers, who have become extremely comfortable ordering fast deliveries from Amazon wherever they might be themselves, will be interested in visiting an actual Amazon store.


BIGGER AND BETTER:

The Nordstrom Manhattan Flagship Plan Comes Into Focus

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While we all know that Nordstrom is building a huge flagship over at Broadway and West 57th Street, the details of what it will look like have remained a mystery —until now. Today's WWD confirms in detail much we have heard and speculated about concerning the first major flagship department store built in Manhattan since Barneys on Madison Avenue over 20 years ago. We also get some interesting new information, like the fact that the plans are so elaborate that the store is has now added a year to its projected opening date, so we will all have to hold out to 2019 to see it all come to life.
But there's more than that. “It can’t be just another nice regional store. It’s got to be better,” Nordstrom Inc.’s co-president Pete Nordstrom tells WWD. We know that the retailer is expanding its plan with more space across Broadway at 3 Columbus Circle, and now it has been confirmed that the space will, as has been widely speculated, be a freestanding men's store which, if it is ready in time, may actually open before the main flagship is finished. The other notable news is that Nordstrom will be taking space in every building along the block of Broadway between 57th and 58th Streets that are adjacent to the enormous new tower that will house the seven selling floors of the main store. That includes 1776 Broadway on the 57th Street corner, and 5 Columbus Circle on the corner of 58th. Their interiors will be integrated into that of the new building to increase space on the street level and floors above, while their exteriors will remain distinct from the new construction and, in the case of 5 Columbus Circle, dramatically restored to resemble its original Beaux Arts splendor (pictured in the gallery after the jump). That will give the store entrances through all of those buildings as well as one previously known to be integrated, 1780 Broadway. Now the flagship will have a continuous frontage that wraps all the way around the Broadway block from 58th to 57th Streets. 
But what will the new building look like?  presented a starkly modern exterior designed by architect James Carpenter featuring undulating glass panels that will allow maximum use of natural light inside the store as well as allowing clear views inside for passersby on the street outside (pictured in the rendering above).
The combined stores will give Nordstrom a total of 363,000 square feet of space, second in size only to the chain's main Seattle flagship store. The interior will feel familiar to seasoned Nordstrom shoppers with the retailer's signature floor plan featuring a central atrium with escalators. What it won't have is the vast expanses of space compared to stores like Bloomingdale's or Saks not to mention Macy's. Nordstrom compares the individual floors' size to those in Bergdorf Goodman, but they will feature the open plan you find in most of the chain's stores with a minimal use of hard, in-store boutiques.
This leads us to the question of exactly which designers Nordstrom will be carrying in its new showplace, a tricky question in Manhattan where luxury designers typically allow for somewhat wider distribution than they do in other cities, but still don't like to be seen in every single store. Nordstrom will have to convince many top designers who are already satisfied with their distribution between Bergdorf's, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's and likely their own flagship boutiques that they should add another point of sale in Manhattan. This work has been ongoing since the store was announced. "One of the things that will help with vendors is that we’ve got this West Side orientation that is somewhat unique,” says Pete Nordstrom, putting actual space between the new store and the concentration of big department stores further east.  “We believe the West Side customer is underserved,” he explains. “We ended up picking this location for a reason — the combination of being able to build something really exciting and interesting and doing it in a neighborhood that’s underserved.” The added floor space will also help the retailer to come to agreements with top designers for representation in the store. Nordstrom already carries nearly every major luxury label in various locations throughout its network of stores. It is now more a matter of convincing them to add one more door in Manhattan where luxury department stores are proliferating downtown and Neiman Marcus, another key account for any top designer, is also entering the fray for the first time at around the same time. 
The new flagship will be the most expensive store the chain has ever built, and it is expected to be its most productive as well. To that end, Nordstrom is obviously taking its time to make sure that every aspect of the store will be the best that it can be. We will find out  in three years, now, how it all turns out, but few department store chains have a track record for expansion that is as successful as Nordstrom's has been over the past few decades. The results should be worth waiting for.

Nordstrom’s Manhattan Project: A Bigger Mousetrap (WWD)

See more renderings of the upcoming store after the jump

Continue reading "BIGGER AND BETTER:

The Nordstrom Manhattan Flagship Plan Comes Into Focus" »


POP-UP ALERT:

Gwyneth Goes Live At Columbus Circle's GOOP MRKT

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For whatever reason, Gwyneth Paltrow has become one of those celebrities that "the internet" just loves to try to take down a peg or two. Is it just a result of being a successful flaxen-haired beauty who has an Oscar? Who knows, but when she started Goop, her email newsletter turned lifestyle enterprise, people really got their hackles up despite the venture's obvious success and warm reception among her actual fans. Paltrow has brought her business to another level today by opening Goop MRKT, a Holiday pop-up store at The Shops at Columbus Circle which will run through December 24th. This is her fourth Goop shop, but her first in Manhattan. We are sure that her band of critics will have their knives out, but, honestly, when The Shophound breezed by the shop earlier today, we couldn't find a great deal to criticize. The modestly sized shop neat the 58th Street entrance to the shopping center has been spruced up with a paint job, some judiciously applied moldings and a few eclectic chandeliers. While we will not exhaustively catalog the contents of the shop, we can say with confidence that if this is an expression of her personal style and favorite items, then the woman has some damned good taste.
There are three sections, with one each devoted to food, cosmetics and fragrances and fashion. The food section, which includes a cappuccino machine presumably installed to serve customers, features a combination of cookbooks, new items like Staub cast iron cookware and antique pieces like a particularly eye-catching set of green and white Bavarian chinaware in the window among other items. In the next section there are soaps, fragrances and other cosmetic items, but the main thrust of the store appears to be fashion and accessories, including an exclusive capsule collection of star-spangles separates inspired by Wonder Woman designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri for Valentino. There are antique watches and jewelry items mixed in with brand new accessories, and the label roster includes labels like Nili Lotan, Carven and Stella McCartney to name a few. For a pop-up, it seems quite well merchandised, more like something that could sustain itself far longer than 31 days, perhaps indefinitely. Is it expensive? Sure, but so are about a thousand other stores in New York, so that's hardly much of a criticism. Really there was only one thing that we could find to criticize —that name, Goop MRKT
What? You're too good for vowels now, Gwyneth?

Goop MRKT through December 24th at 10 Columbus Circle at 58th Street, Upper West Side


OFF-PRICE INVASION:

Is Nordstrom Planning A Rack Store Just A Block From Its Manhattan Flagship?

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Traditionally, prestigious department stores have made an effort to keep their outlet stores a safe distance away from their full-line flagships. After all, why confuse the issue for customers? It looks like Nordstrom may be busting that paradigm as The Real Deal is reporting that executives from the off-price Nordstrom Rack are eyeing a space at 3 Columbus Circle (pictured above) for a new location along with another on West 34th Street. That would put a Rack store less than a block away from the huge, full line flagship store that is being built at the bottom of a skyscraper at 225 West 57th Street. The Rack would be in the southeast corner of the building, replacing a Bank of America branch, and literally across Broadway from an entrance to the mother ship store that is expected to open in 2019. While the flagship will be a whopping seven floors, the proposed Rack store will be also be a sizable 40,ooo square feet over three levels, giving Nordstrom something of a mega-shopping headquarters that has never been seen among Manhattan's rarefied department stores where shopping neighborhoods have been strictly stratified, and outlets are more preferably sequestered in discount centers like Woodbury Commons. Outside of independent off-price chains like Century 21 and the defunct Lehmann's, Filene's Basement and Daffy's, Manhattan had traditionally been an outlet-free zone for its luxury department stores. Lately, however, that has been changing, in part thanks to Nordstrom which first entered New York City with a Rack location just off Union Square. Now a Bloomingdale's outlet is set to open later this season at 72nd Street and Broadway, and Saks Off 5th will open in the Financial District at 1 Liberty Plaza, just on the other side of the Word Trade Center complex from an upcoming full line store in Brookfield Place. Still, if this deal comes to fruition, Nordstrom will be the first one to have its own outlet located practically across the street from one of its largest flagship stores.

Nordstrom Rack eyeing 3 Columbus Circle space (The Real Deal)