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Retail Views

Amazon back in the game as tech titans take over main street

By Faith Hope Consolo, chairman, The Retail Group,
Douglas Elliman Real Estate

FAITH CONSOLO
FAITH CONSOLO

The tech giants are coming. Within less than two weeks, Microsoft announced that it would open a Fifth Avenue flagship store just blocks from Apple’s iconic location on the avenue, and Amazon said it would open a pop-up shop on West 34th Street, steps from Herald Square and the Empire State Building.

Microsoft has been opening stores around the country (it should have nearly 125 by year-end), so it was simply a matter of time before it found the right location to make a New York City statement.

And a four-level, 5,000 s/f space with 50 feet of frontage at 677 Fifth Avenue certainly is a statement.

Microsoft says it will use the space for more than selling tablets and software, and will seek to engage with shoppers and partners.  We’ll see if it evolves into the same kind of “place to be seen” that Apple has become. The store certainly continues the trend of the world’s great brands occupying the most famous shopping street in the world.

Amazon, on the other hand, is launching a brick-and-mortar presence here, opening its first physical store for the holidays at 7 West 34th Street.

At this writing, it’s still unclear how long the lease is, and how much merchandise will be on display, versus the store serving as a place to pick up items ordered online (known as click-and-collect in the industry).

This may be Amazon’s ploy to neutralize brick-and-mortar stores’ chief advantage, particularly at the holidays: immediate delivery.
Recent years have seen well-publicized problems with getting packages to the recipients in time, and it’s not unreasonable that shoppers might be a bit distrustful of online retailers.

Providing a well-located store where items ordered online can be picked up — and where the shopper might also be inspired to make an additional impulse purchase — puts Amazon right back in that game.

If successful, this could have a far-reaching effect on retail around the city, and the world.

Amazon is reportedly opening a story in Herald Square.
Amazon is reportedly opening a story in Herald Square.

Traditional retail continues to expand. Brora, a Scottish knitwear company, is coming to 1200 Madison Avenue; joining it at that address will be a new outpost for bluemercury.

Rumor has it that the long-awaited COS store will open on December 8.  The Lodge, an e-tailer focusing on interesting items for men, has opened its second physical store at 220 East 10th Street.

Jill Stuart has debuted at 466 Broome Street. Tory Burch will have her fourth store in the city at Brookfield Place. Paintbox, a nail salon that offers a designer lookbook of art for our fingers and toes, has come to 17 Crosby Street.

Nordstrom Rack is now at 550 Gateway Drive in Brooklyn. Crunch Gym will come to 1034 Flatbush Avenue late next year. The newly renovated H&M at 111 Fifth Avenue has reopened. Vendome Macaron will make Brooklyn Heights sweeter at 360 Furman Street.

The calendar gets ever busier as the year comes to a conclusion. My friends at NYCREW will host a special focus on “Facilities Management Today: Trends and Challenges,” on Tuesday, November 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Pratt Institute, 144 West 14th Street.

Moderators Audrey Shultz of Pratt Institute and Amelia Janisz of EZ Building EHS will host a panel discussion on the latest property facility management trends, joined by speakers Michael Aisner, RXR Realty Trust; Paul Magda of ABM Facility Services; and Patricia Revellese of SL Green Realty Corp.
And save the date for our Holiday Gala and Empire Award presentation, to be held on Tuesday, December 9 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbus Citizens Foundation Townhouse, 8 East 69th Street.

We’ll honor the achievements of 2014, look forward to 2015, and celebrate NYCREW’s unique camaraderie! For more information, visit www.nycrew.org.

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