Khushbu Shah, a writer for Eater, says, “Urban Outfitters has long been a mecca for millennials with disposable income to spend on pricey beanies, records and floral rompers that should have probably stayed in the ‘90s.” The store has taken hipster style and made it more conventional for the average, trend-seeking young person. Because of how well their nationwide stores have done, the chain has decided to pair with a handful of America’s best chefs to open up restaurants inside their stores to create a unique shopping experience. Plans for a new Urban Outfitters in Austin, Texas will be putting in two or three restaurants as part of the store’s new initiative: the implementation of their “lifestyle concept.” Urban Outfitters marketing manager, Tracy McGinnis, explained to Eater the importance of “giving customers an experience they can’t purchase with a click of their mouse.” A Los Angeles Urban Outfitters, which opened in 2008, was the first to focus on “experience retail,” and includes a nail art studio, skateboard shop and performance stage in addition to their typical clothing racks. As Urban Outfitters continues to change its stores, it plans to work with the local community in hopes of building greater appeal for their new initiative.
This idea sounds wildly familiar to that of a department store; however, it takes on a major twist. The average department store is full of many different sections containing shoes, clothes, bags and more. It also generally includes some sort of eatery, likely a quaint café. What Urban seems to be doing is taking its clothing store and turning it into a one of a kind and fully-integrated experience. Even better, its plans of working with different communities will make each new Urban a little bit different, and add a unique spin based on the place. It will include a restaurant, maybe two, and like the Los Angeles location it might also include a nail salon. I see this new initiative continuing to draw in their regular shoppers, and keep those shoppers who might only stay for an hour in passing in the store for three hours because they sat down for lunch or coffee with their friend. More importantly, I see it drawing men and women in their twenties who are looking to spice up their closet. Most of them likely shop at department stores for work clothes, but these places aren’t necessarily ones they’re going to for weekend clothes. While Urban Outfitters doesn’t carry clothes that could be worn to the office, food is always a major draw, and for that 28-year-old woman looking to fill her closet with new tees, fun scarves or weekend shirts, it might just be the perfect place to take her business.
With this new initiative I hope that Urban Outfitters continues to keep their stores trendy and fun, and not turn into the classic department store. Part of the huge draw to Urban is the in-style ripped jeans, biker jackets and cut tank-tops that have become the new chic. This style also needs to be implemented into the restaurant, refraining from the typical department store lunch place, and putting in restaurants with a current and earthier feel. Restaurants that sell pressed juice, quinoa salads and avocado toast rather than shrimp cocktail and frozen yogurt will appeal to today’s millennials. Keeping in mind the typical shopper and core style of the stores themselves will help create restaurants that cater to their target demographic and keep the modern-day hipster feel.
The new “lifestyle concept” is a unique and appealing idea, and if executed well it has the potential to make Urban Outfitters an even larger phenomenon. The stores are fun and fashion-forward, appealing to stylish millennials. Urban Outfitters employees who are overseeing this move must align the restaurants with their stores and clothes products. Making retail an experience successfully could potentially produce a very positive outcome.