Boutiques ‘R’ In at Bloomie’s and Field’s

Aug 11, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A report in the Chicago Sun-Times says that Federated Department Stores’ Bloomingdale’s division has begun adding in-store boutiques similar to those at soon-to-be sister company Marshall Field’s State Street store in Chicago.

The shops-within-the-shop are part of an initiative at Bloomingdale’s called New View which is focused on promoting the sale of women’s career clothes from designers such as DKNY, Ellen Tracy, Lilly Pulitzer and others.

Jeff Binder, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Bloomingdale’s, said the in-store boutique had nothing to do with Marshall Field’s or the impending merger between Federated and May Department Stores.

“Bloomingdale’s has been doing vendor shops for years,” adding, “We command that the vendors specially design shops for us.”

Moderator’s Comment: Generally speaking, are store-within-a-store and in-store boutiques a destination shop area for consumers? What is the right and
wrong way to design, merchandise and market stores-within-a-store?

George Anderson – Moderator

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3 Comments on "Boutiques ‘R’ In at Bloomie’s and Field’s"

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Mark Lilien
15 years 6 months ago

When a customer finds a label whose taste she likes and whose sizing fits her, the combination is very powerful, as long as the price is right.

Every department store chain in the US routinely displays a given label in its own section, so “in-store boutiques” are not unusual. The issue is the level of dominance and uniqueness.

Typically, the department store chain gets a subset of a label’s assortment. That assortment has 2 parts: items sold to other department stores in the same market and items that are “exclusive.” The exclusives are mostly exclusive colors of the same fabrics and styles sold to others. The combination of the abbreviated assortment and the weak version of “exclusivity” results in a me-too assortment that is not compelling or dominant. It is “representational.”

If the in-store boutiques receive dominant, comprehensive assortments, combined with true exclusives, they become destinations. Otherwise, they are not destinations, they are merely “convenient.”

Charlie Moro
Charlie Moro
15 years 6 months ago

The Store within a Store concept works great, not only as a destination area, but I think how the natural food world was introduced to retail supermarkets with the same process, Staples sections and areas in Stop & Shop, Pet Centers, Beverage areas…my favorite still is Andronico’s “adult beverage” area and humidor in Danville CA…still a destination for me each time I am out there.

Carol Spieckerman
15 years 6 months ago

…well, it depends on how you define “store-within-a-store.” As Mark noted, designer/corporate sections within department stores are commonplace (and, may I add, boring). Walk into any May Co. store and you’ll see the same huge Ralph Lauren section complete with piles of shop-off-the-floor clearance items…usually right next to the store’s private label. Were someone to create true boutiques featuring tight, exclusive assortments and distinct environments, that could be exciting!


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