WOODBRIDGE, NJ–Sears hopes the small fashion boutiques it is building inside some existing stores will entice consumers to visit more often.
The launch of “Showcase at Sears,” a collection of European and Latin American apparel brands at two Garden State stores this fall, will not include the Hub City's Sears location on Route 1 South.
The new specialty shops are “initially launching” in just five area stores, according to Sears, including the ones at Woodbridge Center Mall and the Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City.
The struggling 130-year-old retailer says the boutiques will be 10,000 to 15,000 square-feet each.
Inside, customers can experience what the retailer calls a unique “shop-in-shop” trial featuring 11 international fashion brands from six different countries of origin. The categories include: men’s, women’s children’s, women's shoes, intimates and handbags.
“Our members [will] love the fashion and selection, they'll love the unique space we're building out in each store,” said Joelle Maher, president and chief member officer of Illinois-based Sears. “It will be inviting, high energy, and staffed with knowledgeable associates dedicated to serving [customers].”
The apparel styles will range from fast fashion, a term used by fashion retailers to describe the most current fashion trends, and fitness, to contemporary sportswear with prices ranging from $10 to $175, says Sears.
The boutiques will make some of the brands available in the U.S. for the first time this autumn.
The concept of stationing individual outlets inside of existing stores has reportedly been a boon for other retailers including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, and Nordstrom. Macy's leases space inside several of its stores to the Finish Line, Inc., a sporting goods chain.
Sears says its own store associates will provide great service and product knowledge; it hopes the new showrooms are both "inviting" and "high energy." To that end, current staffers will play an important role.
"These curated collections are a perfect complement to our existing apparel assortment,” says Maher.
Consumers will have the opportunity to try on brands they'd "otherwise have to travel internationally" to test out, says Maher.
“We are creating an experience for our members unlike anything” in U.S. retail, said David Pastrana, president of apparel at Sears Holdings. "Showcase at Sears gives our members access to fresh international trends, styles and fashions at an affordable price.”
A survey released this year by Prosper Analytics & Insights found that only a small fraction of American consumers considered Sears their "go-to store" for apparel.
And by the end of last year, the retailer lost about half its shopper preference share in the women’s clothing segment, according to Prosper's data.
Sears, which has a market capitalization of more than $1.4 billion, but has been reporting net losses and rising debt, has shuttered scores of locations in recent years while reducing the size of others in order to keep their doors opened.
“Showcase at Sears” boutiques will also turn up inside Sears locations at: Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, New York; The Galleria at White Plains in White Plains, New York; and Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, New York.