Camp brings a playground to retail

Discussion
Source: Camp
Dec 28, 2018
Tom Ryan

Buzzfeed, the media company best known for its lighthearted lists and quizzes that go viral, is supporting a new retail concept for kids called Camp that packs the summer-camp experience into a 10,000-square foot box.

The first store just opened in the Flatiron district of Manhattan.

The front section, the Canteen, looks like a regular store, with toys, books, apparel and gifts sorted in stacks. An outpost of Manhattan’s chic deserts chain, Milk Bar, serving a special s’mores sundae and coffee, is in the corner.

The real action, however, is hidden in the “Base Camp” event space in the back that is only accessible through a “secret moving wall.” Once guided through the wall, kids snake through a racetrack design to discover more than two dozen unique experiences, including a light-up dance floor, a switchboard they can use to create their own song, and an arts and crafts table. A stage supports sing-a-longs and improv shows.

 

Beyond selling merchandise, the concept makes money two other ways:

  • Workshops: Making your own camp pennant, snow globe or other item costs $20 to $25 a class.
  • Sponsorships:  MasterCard is sponsoring the Base Camp area until March 15, but sponsorships are also available for in-store activations, such as a make-your-own lip-gloss workshop.

Camp further stands out because its theme rotates every eight to 12 weeks. Rachel Shechtman, the founder of Story, known for its rotating mix, sits on Camp’s board and is an investor. RRE Ventures and Lerer Ventures are also investors and Buzzfeed has a small stake.

Camp is the brainchild of Ben Kaufman, known as the founder of the inventor marketplace, Quirky, before becoming head of BuzzFeed Commerce. At Buzzfeed, he rolled out Buzzfeed’s Tasty line at Walmart and Goodful brand at Macy’s.

Mr. Kaufman is looking to open seven to 10 stores across multiple cities within the next year, and feels the toy category is ripe to capitalize on experiential retailing.

Mr. Kaufman told Women’s Wear Daily, “The market for family experiences is pretty thin right now and we’re filling a big void. There are babies being born all over the world and families looking for places to go.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does the Camp concept seem well positioned to capitalize on the experiential trend in retailing? Do you have any thoughts or concerns around the rotating theme, sponsorships, workshops and any other aspects of the Camp experience?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is a fantastic idea and plays right into consumers’ love for the theater of shopping. It will be a huge draw for children that experience this adventure."
"We’re calling this a retail experience but is that what it really is? To me it’s a fun place to go to let your kids run off some steam..."
"Excellent! There’s sooooo much talk about what retail experience is – this is truly it."

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10 Comments on "Camp brings a playground to retail"


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Ken Morris
BrainTrust

This is a fantastic idea and plays right into consumers’ love for the theater of shopping. It will be a huge draw for children that experience this adventure. They will remember it and ask their parents to go back. It is great for customer loyalty.

Changing the theme every 12 weeks is smart, as they can send announcements to “fans” when a new theme is launched — driving more store traffic and sales.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Excellent! There’s sooooo much talk about what retail experience is –this is truly it, not something like in-store location-based couponing.

Given that kids are the target market and that the Base Camp is essentially a play and entertainment zone, it elevates retail to a place that is an experience and a memory, distant from other stores. With so many people retaining happy memories of visiting Toys “R” Us as a child (a bare-bones store) and others thinking fondly of FAO Schwarz, the potential for Camp is enormous.

The rotating theme concept enhances the discovery aspect and is sure to maintain the freshness of the store. Nothing wrong with sponsorship either, this is a commercial venture not unlike endless others that have sponsors in subtle and obvious ways.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Sounds like malls ought to be lined up around the block offering Camp very advantageous rent deals. Camp would seem to be reason enough to be its own destination and certainly a very strong tie-breaker to visit the mall with a Camp versus a mall without a Camp. And it has got all the right creative minds behind it. In a world of Explore + Experiment = Experience, Camp is a great solution.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Wow. This store sounds like a Build-A-Bear or craft stores on steroids. Exciting. I believe that craft vendors should be/will be knocking on the door. There is an old adage in retail about the importance of children’s events: “Love my kids and I’ll love you!” One caveat, make sure parents/guardians understand to not just drop kids off, that puts the store in a tough position. Overall, Incredible potential, wonderful idea. And Jeff Sward hit the nail on the head: mall operators should be seriously talking about this as a possibility.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

What a tantalizing idea. Parents will see a promising venue for birthday parties and kids will see a mini theme park. Everyone wins.

Shelley E. Kohan
BrainTrust

Camp is a surefire hit! Experiential, fun and engaging for all “campers.” The rotating theme is excellent and will keep the store interesting and relevant. The sponsorship is a great way to fund the various themes and also allow for a broad creative input. This reminds me of a kids version of STORY in NYC which has been a smashing success.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

As a parent, and now a grandparent, I have spent a lot of time in stores and play places designed for kids. Pieces of what Camp offers can be found in a variety of other not-so-cool places, but not all in one space, and not all just for the purpose of entertaining kids. Changing the theme every 12 weeks will keep it fresh, this will keep the decor fresh, too. Kids play places get tired pretty fast.

We’re calling this a retail experience but is that what it really is? To me it’s a fun place to go to let your kids run off some steam, more Dave & Buster’s amusement than an actual in-store experience.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

It’s hard to consider this experiential retail — it sounds like Chuck-E-Cheese in the city. And as a fresh version, it might work. What’s not stated here (which Chuck’s supplied) is any place for parents to hang while the kids are playing.

Here’s why I don’t consider it an advance in experiential retail: For experience to matter, it has to remain close to the product. There’s no concept here of a unifying product theme that makes sense with the experience offered to kids.

So it sounds fun. But I don’t expect it to make a “big change” in retail. Retailers need to avoid any “experience” concepts that take A-grade stores and replace them with C-grade amusement parks. Overall, Camp sounds close to that error.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Maybe I’m being naïve, or perhaps it’s a limited experience with summer camp, but I don’t remember the latter being used to push toys … or any other products.

But anyway, I think this concept has some future (regardless of how little I think it replicates an actual summer camp experience).

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

While I get it is fun, does it move enough merchandise to be profitable? Color me doubtful.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is a fantastic idea and plays right into consumers’ love for the theater of shopping. It will be a huge draw for children that experience this adventure."
"We’re calling this a retail experience but is that what it really is? To me it’s a fun place to go to let your kids run off some steam..."
"Excellent! There’s sooooo much talk about what retail experience is – this is truly it."

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