A Less Snooty Tiffany Opens
By Tom Ryan
Holly Golightly wouldn’t recognize the new Tiffany location in University Village in Seattle. Instead of stainless steel, the front doors are made of glass. The store is smaller than a typical Tiffany, focuses on lower-priced items, and even allows customers to touch some of the merchandise.
Tiffany opened a similar store at the Americana Shopping Center in Glendale, California during 2008. The more relaxed vibe is designed to encourage customers — mainly women — to interact with the product.
Inside, spacing is more open and some jewelry pieces in the university location are displayed on top of tables in “organic displays” so that customers can touch them, without asking for permission. Sales associates, called “stylists,” can ring up sales with handheld cash registers, much like the staff at Apple stores. The store, at 2,100 square feet, compares with the 4000-5000 square-foot size of a typical Tiffany location.
The store also focuses less on high-end jewelry and more on lower-priced but “higher-margin” best sellers. The Glendale location originally did not stock any engagement or high-end jewelry when it opened in October 2008, but recently added a “representative engagement ring assortment” due to customer requests.
Store manager Belinda Kearns told The Seattle Times that Tiffany chose University Village as a second site for the new concept because of Seattle’s “independent spirit and sophisticated sense of style.”
Ms. Kearns added, “It’s designed to let people explore and play a little bit with their own style. I think that will fit in well with University Village. It’s one of those places where people come to linger and relax.”
Regarding the use of glass doors, she said, “Some people might be a little intimidated walking through our big stainless-steel doors. It’s just our way of being more inviting.”
Paco Underhil, founder of Envirocell, the retail consultancy, particularly applauded Tiffany’s efforts to create an environment where consumers can “play” with the merchandise, akin to an Apple store.
“The thing about Apple stores is that they’re a temple to the brand,” Mr. Underhill told The Seattle Times. “Tiffany also has the potential to do that. In the larger national jewelry scene, Tiffany is the only real brand out there with some form of mass acceptance. It’s upscale, but approachable.”
Discussion Questions: Do you think a more relaxed and less formal Tiffany’s will work without turning off the chain’s traditional customers? Does allowing shoppers to touch merchandise and having associates user handheld devices fit with Tiffany’s image?
- Less formal Tiffany store opens today at University Village – The Seattle Times
- Will Interactive Displays Appeal to Consumers? – Brandweek