FITCH Must See: Discovering the Internet IRL

Jan 31 · 3 min read

Each month the global FITCH Must See team explore the best in brand experiences. In January, Senior Strategist Linda Xiao and the team looked at making discovery easier — focusing on Neighborhood Goods in New York’s Chelsea Market.

Each location of Neighborhood Goods is meant to be unique to that market. Attracting both tourists and locals alike, it’s no surprise that Neighborhood Goods chose Chelsea Market — an eclectic blend of retailers and crafty food counters — to open its New York flagship and start a community.

Neighborhood Goods, Chelsea Market, NYC.

Touting itself as the ‘department store of the future,’ Neighborhood Goods sets a high bar for visitors.

At first glance, a selection of warm and inviting products sits within neat signage designating each branded section. A space full of different, revolving brands that still feels cohesive and easily shoppable.

What stands out immediately is the quality of brands in the space. Neighborhood Goods is very selective when choosing which brands to activate in its stores. All the brands are innovative and modern, most with sustainable practices. Many of them I’d only seen on Instagram or heard about through online blogs. On top of that, it was nice to see so many local, New York-based products all in one space.

For many of these DTC brands, partnering with Neighborhood Goods is the first venturing into IRL retail, giving them a physical presence and a chance to entice and engage with new customers. Each branded section is essentially a showroom for that brand’s best and most representative items. As these brands dip their toes into IRL retail, they can adjust their footprint and merchandise accordingly within the space as time goes on.

This is a constantly evolving and thoughtful store. Despite hosting numerous brands, the space still felt cohesive while keeping each brand distinct and unique. Clear communications about each brand, along with their respective websites and Instagram handles, are labelled up by the Neighborhood Goods team, keeping the tone of voice consistent and true to the space.

Even the hospitality moments are dynamic and thoughtful. The Tiny Feast restaurant concept — although not yet open — promised a day-parting menu adjusted to the New Yorker’s fast-paced day; offering coffee in the mornings, a wide selection of food throughout the day, and ending with drinks after work hours. There was also a Pop-Up Grocer concept, which featured up-and-coming local snack and beverage brands, nodding to the supportive nature of the local community.

Neighborhood Goods manages to make the internet a little less daunting by providing a curated, ever-changing landscape of the most exciting brands and bringing them to you IRL.

This space encourages discovery while also fostering a new culture around shopping; providing a local, relevant experience for customers rather than a one-size fits all approach. No matter how many times you go back, customers should expect to explore and learn something new.

Concepts like Neighborhood Goods continue to serve as a reminder that the department store model isn’t dead. Like most things, it just needed to evolve and reinvent itself. After all, 90% of sales still occur within physical stores, just not the boring ones.

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