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Glossy reports that outdoor clothing retailer North Face, with the opening of a new 8,000-square-foot store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, is heralding a new bricks-and-mortar retail strategy - it plans to redo most of its more than 100 stores in this new style.

The rethinking of the company’s physical stores comes after customers told the retailer that it was not sufficiently communicating the fact that it is “a purpose- and values-led company.”

According to the story, “Where old stores may have felt cramped and a little dark, and focused on selling products, the new stores are aimed to be more open, bright and encourage exploration. They’re also built with all sustainable materials … Scattered around the store, the brand has also included some of its products that have been used by the brand’s explorers (climbers, skiers and runners who serve as brand ambassadors) on past adventures. Paired with them are little bios about the explorer, and often handwritten notes about their trip or the North Face product they took with them.”

Each new store “will have a specific area by the cash wrap set up for buy-online, pick-up in-store orders, as well as a meeting place for personal outfitting or styling sessions … There are also spaces to recycle old, worn products that the brand can then use as part of its Clothes the Loop partnership donating used clothes to non-profit partner Soles4Souls.”
KC's View:
I think that my favorite part of the new North Face look is a section at the rear of the store called “The Campfire,” which is exactly what it sounds like - a place where the company and its brand ambassadors can tell stories, and where, ideally, customers will be able tio share their stories.

The lesson here, I believe, is that retailers need to pay more attention to telling their stories. So many stores still are just repositories for other company’s brands, and communicating the retailer’s singular and distinctive brand message isn’t a top priority. Of course, part of the problem is that some retailers haven’t really defined their own distinctive and differentiated messages.