49 Concept Stores, Experiential Retail & Flagships in New York City

If you are in New York City, visit these concept stores, experiential retail, and flagships stores, and experience the future of shopping in physical retail.

New York City is awaking like a mighty bear roaring after a deep sleep. After 18 months of lockdowns and travel restrictions, a store tour in Manhattan clarifies what works and what does not in retail.

What’s New in New York City Shopping?

Retail returned to New York City with a bang.

Fifth Avenue filled up with familiar remodeled and new flagship stores. The Soho and Meat Packing District retained their dominance as the chic and cool zones for young adults. And the Shops in Hudson Yards evolved into a distinct tint of luxury boutiques.

Hudson Yards NYC (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
Hudson Yards, New York City: The Most Expensive Real-Estate in the World

NEW & Remodeled Stores to Go To in 2022

Allure Store (191 Lafayette St. Soho). The first physical store by Allure Magazine offers a curated selection of cosmetics and beauty products. Focusing on experiential retail, the store has Smart Mirrors with augmented reality and QR Codes.  

Bed & Beyond (620 Sixth Ave. Chelsea): The remodeled flagship store includes the first-of-its-kind SodaStream bar, a café, and a store-in-store section for Casper mattresses.

CAMP (10 Columbus Circle Mall, Upper Midtown): The newest flagship for CAMP, the experiential retailer for kids, has two floors and interactive activities such as the Splatter Room and Slime Lab.

FAO Schwarz (30 Rockefeller Plaza, Upper Midtown): After closing its famous “Lost in New York” toy store, the iconic retailer has a new home with toy soldiers, race cars, and magicians. With Target as the new owner, the toy store has store-in-store for Barbie Dolls, Build-A-Bear, and Beanie Babies.

Google store (76 Ninth Ave. Chelsea): Following Amazon and Apple, Google opened its first-ever physical retail store. The store features the Pixel phones, Nest products, and Fitbit wearables. The emphasis on sustainability is built-in.

Harry Potter (935 Broadway, Flatiron) Fancy a Butterbeer?  Want to fly over a Hogwarts Castle? Go to the Harry Potter flagship store for family fun.

Lego Store (636 5th Avenue): Another great store for kids. The two levels of the Lego flagship store include a yellow cab, the Empire State Building, Times Square made of Lego bricks.

Shopify (131 Greet Street, Soho): The online shopping platform giant opened its first flagship store to support the small business community in NYC. The two floors location offers workshops, one-on-one support, and a podcast studio to its online entrepreneurs.

Starbucks/Amazon Go (111 E 59th St.) The first store of two high-tech giants is all about convenience. Amazon now sells its contactless payment platform to partners. You use the Starbuck app to order ahead and the Amazon Go app to shop and “Just Walk Out.”

FO Schwartz in Rockefeller Center, NYC | Behavior Analytics Academy
FAO Schwartz in Rockefeller Center NYC

Most importantly, retailers lead with branding, technology, and community.

Barbie store-in-store FAO Schwartz NYC
FAO Schwartz
Victoria's Secret on 5th Avenue NYC
Victoria’s Secret

The retail trends include:

Store-In-Store: Store-in-Store is an agreement where the retailer rents a space in the physical store to a brand. For example, FO Schwartz in the Rockefeller Center store has distinct zones for Build-a-Bear, Barbie Dolls, and Beanie Babies brands.

Fifth Avenue:  If you visited NYC before the pandemic, you felt the decline of Fifth Avenue. But as rents become more realistic, Fifth Avenue is coming back to life as Victoria’s Secret, Tory Burch, and other retailers join Nike’s House of Innovation to welcome the crowds.

DTC Casper in Soho, NYC
DTC Casper store in Soho

Direct-to-Consumer: DTCs online retailers are opening physical stores. There is growing evidence that physical stores play a critical part in the customer’s journey.  People visit brick-and-mortar stores to touch and feel products, the convenience of now, and because stores are a social experience.

New York City retained the magic for retail

Rockefeller Center Christmas Extravaganza 2021, NYC
Rockefeller Center

Before you jump into the stores’ tour, here are retail concepts and sample stores that you will see during your shopping experience in NYC:

What’s a Concept Store?

Concept Store is where retailers test new ideas in design, products, and services. For example, recent retail trends include on-site cafes, customized services, curve pickup, and interactive media.

Concept Store vs. Pilot Store

Retailers often use the terms “concept store” and “pilot store” for the same meaning. While merchandising experts use “concept store” to indicate specialized products, it relates to “something new” in retail-tech circles.

In this post, the meaning of “concept store” and “pilot store” are similar enough. It means the concept store introduced an innovative concept, product, or service to retail.

You cannot get closer to your customers than in the physical store.

And to build a customer experience strategy in retail concept stores, you need measurable and manageable KPIs. Here’s how:

Nike’s House of Innovation on Fifth Avenue (The BEST Example of Concept Store)

When Nike’s Flagship opened at 650 Fifth Avenue in 2020, the retailer revolutionized the model of Direct to Consumer.

Nike's House of Innovation on 5th Avenue, NYC | Behavior Analytics Academy
Nike’s House of Innovation on 5th Avenue, NYC

“Nike Live is the result of a singular vision: to design the most locally-relevant experience out there leveraging digital with personal service.”

Cathy Sparks, VP/GM of Global Nike Direct Stores & Service

The strength of Nike’s store comes from a mix of exceptional experiences for customers with a push to download and connect with the Nike app.

Experiential Retail - Nike's House of Innovation in New York City | Behavior Analytics Academy
Experiential Retail – Nike’s Makers Studio serves as a frontline research center

The digital transformation is everywhere with displays that will entice you to:

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) in Nike's store in 5th Ave NYC | Behavior Analytics Academy
DTC at Nike’s Maker
  • Download the Nike App: AR-Based digital experience that follows you home
  • Get Expert Help: How to find and customize the perfect product for you
  • Deliver with Courier Service: anywhere in the city
  • Buy It. Try it: No questions asked return guarantee
  • Ask for iterations: when perfect is not good enough J

And the innovation goes deeper by using a concept called co-creation. For example, the customers can scan their feet and upload the design to their application.

Nike considers the NYC store as the “Face of Living Retail.”

 “It becomes a sticky ecosystem because, say that you’ve downloaded the Nike app on your phone, and you have the Nike running app or the fitness app that they have or even just their shopping app — you’ll get targeted emails, and they start to know what you do athletically. Or they might know your style,” Telsey’s Feldman said. “They’ll start to send you direct emails when there’s either a new product that might be of interest to you, or they’ll give you the first crack sometimes at a new product that just came out.”

How Nike is using DTC and data to expand its empire, RetailDive

Nike’s House of Innovation is a magnificent example of a physical store for the Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) brand, the physical-digital transformation, and most importantly, how brands conduct market research.

Nike NYC makes real our vision of living retail — a dynamic and active shopping experience in an environment that’s as responsive as digital.

Heidi O’Neill, President of Nike Direct

What’s a Flagship Store?

Flagship stores are the most important stores in a retail chain. The flagship stores tend to be located in a prime location, be larger, and more often promoted.

What’s the difference between Concept Stores vs. Flagship Stores?

Concept stores are not always flagship stores. For example, retailers test innovative ideas in temporary pop-up stores. But flagship stores are often concept stores because retailers launch new ideas to a broader audience.

Nordstrom on 57th Street NYC (Example of Flagship Store)

320,000 sq and seven floors of awesome, including two floors for beauty and 100 services, the flagship store is on 57th Street & Broadway.

Nordstrom Flagship concept store NYC | Behavior Analytics Academy
Nordstrom Flagship (Source Ronny Max)

Three store concepts stand out:

1) Elevating In-Store Customer Service

To customers, stores are a beacon of convenience. The first floor has a colossal Customer Service Bar, where customers can pick up and return and order and pay quickly and easily.

The emphasis on customer service in such a prominent location helps solve the erosion in profit margins and fraud rampant in online shopping.

Moreover, the customers who return merchandise to a physical store tend to shop for impulse buys.

 2) The in-store customer experience is no longer a cliché

Experimental Retail tends to be associated with coffee and food. In Nordstrom flagship, the customer experience is built-in.   

For example, you will find a high-end restaurant and bar on the fifth floor. The food is good. The service is excellent. Here’s the interesting bit: a lady sat next to me in the bar and told me that she comes to the store every day after work “to check out what’s new and eat in the restaurant.”

My favorite venue was the Shoe Bar in the basement. Martini and shoes, WOW!

Experiential Retail  - Shoe Bar in Nordstrom flagship store,NYC | Behavior Analytics Academy
Experiential Retail – Shoe Bar in Nordstrom flagship store

3) Beyond the Destination Department Store with Store-in-Store Models

Department stores were the darlings of traditional retail because they were Destination Stores. In shopping malls, department stores serve as anchor stores. While discount stores and warehouses rise, the department store model declines.

Canada Goose Studio in Nordstrom flagship (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
Canada Goose Studio in Nordstrom flagship (Source Ronny Max)

Nordstrom repositioned the flagship store into the stores-in-store model to solve the department store challenge. For example, Burberry and Nike have unique enclaves.  Eileen Fisher has a pop-up store. And there’s a broadcasting studio sponsored by Canada Goose.

Each store zone curates the goods and environment that adheres to its specialty audience in the store-in-store model.

As a flagship store targeting the young and affluent urban shoppers, the big themes of sustainability and diversity were evident. I stopped counting after the tenth employee with pink, blue, or green hair.

The Nordstrom flagship store is a triumph of a serious re-thinking about what retail and physical stores are about and, in particular, the value of a department store.

What’s Store-in-Store Model?

The store-in-store (or store-within-a-store )model is an agreement where the retailer rents space on the sales floor to a brand. The brand may run the shop as an independent store or carry the costs of training and employing the on-store staff. 

Recently, the store-in-store model gained traction among retailers and brands. A famous example is the Apple Store in Target and Saphora in Kohls.

Showfields on 10 Bond Street (Example of Store-In-Store Department Store Model)

Showfields concept store in Soho NYC

Before the pandemic of 2020, Soho became the center of gravity for chic retailers such as Allbirds, The RealReal, and Fablethics, but the headlines belonged to Showfields.

Showfields promotes itself as a gallery for Direct-To-Consumer online retailers. The retailer provides short-term leases for brands who want a physical presence.

In other words, Showfields is a “department store for pop-ups.”

What’s Experiential Retail?

Experiential retail refers to a customer experience beyond traditional shopping, such as restaurants, customized in-store services, and Augmented Reality Beauty Studios. 

Despite the pandemic upheavals, experiential retail is still relevant

What’s a Showroom Store?

Showroom stores are where you get to “touch and feel” and engage with products, but the fulfillment and delivery come from centralized warehouses. The store does not have an inventory of goods for you to take home immediately.  

Rebecca Minkoff store in Soho (Example of a Showroom Store)

Rebecca Minkoff flagship store in Soho
Rebecca Minkoff flagship store in Soho

By 2018, Rebecca Minkoff cracked the code for Unified Commerce. The sauce to the brand’s staggering success is a mix of high-tech stores, discounted warehouses, and savvy online site and sales strategy.

The tiny flagship store packs with high tech. The technology connects Smart Walls, RFID Tags, and Digital Fitting Rooms.

The brand was one of the first retailers to ask for the customer’s phone number, an entry point to the Rebecca Minkoff loyalty program. It also allows the salesperson to follow up after the visit.

As a flagship store, the Soho store is a marketing showroom. The Rebecca Minkoff store hosts events, student programs, and press tours. Nearby, the retailer has a warehouse that sells discounted designer clothes and bags.

The Rebecca Minkoff high-tech store is an excellent example of selling fun and fashion while serving as the showroom for a vibrant online brand.

Macy’s in Herald Square: The Most Famous Store in New York

Macy's in Herald Square, NYC (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
Macy’s in Herald Square, NYC

NYC Store Tour by Ronny Max

The stores are listed according to their district in NYC. You should use Google Maps as your Guide. Click here for Ronny’s Store Tour.

Ronny Max with  Nicolas Guiloff and  Denise Cornejo from Chile and Franco from Peru in front of the Verve in Hudson Yards (Source Alex Jacoby)
Ronny Max with Nicolas Guiloff and Denise Cornejo from Chile and Franco from Peru in front of the Verve in Hudson Yards (Source Alex Jacoby)

5th Avenue & Upper Midtown Flagship Stores

Midtown Manhattan covers the areas surrounding Times Square, Penn Station, and their offshoot streets. If you have a couple of hours to stroll around, this is a worthwhile tour to see the tourist soul of New York City.

Customize & Play with Dolls at American Girl NYC (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
American Girl

Adidas (565 5th Ave): The flagship store of Adidas includes a track for runners, customized shirts, and bleachers in front of gigantic digital screens.

American Girl (75 Rockefeller Plaza): Interactive and innovative stores for girls. In the Girl & Doll salon, dolls et hairstyling, ear piercing, and manicures.

Apple Store (767 5th Ave): Apple flagship store in NYC. The iconic glass cube with the large suspended Apple logo dominates the entrance to the store.

CAMP (10 Columbus Circle Mall, Upper Midtown): The newest flagship for CAMP, the experiential retailer for kids, has two floors and interactive activities such as the Splatter Room and Slime Lab.

Dyson (640 5th Ave): The new appliance flagship is both a museum and a demo store. Vacuum cleaners can be cool!

FAO Schwarz (30 Rockefeller Plaza): After closing its famous “Lost in New York” toy store, the iconic retailer has a new home with toy soldiers, race cars, and magicians.

IKEA Planning Center (999 3rd Ave): A long staircase will take into a variety of kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms. Designed for urban life, you can purchase in the store but the furniture will be delivered directly to your home.

Lego Store (636 5th Avenue): The two levels of the Lego flagship store include a yellow cab, the Empire State Building, Times Square made of Lego bricks.

Lululemon (597 5th Ave): This sportswear flagship offers experience over a purchase, with meditation studio and Zen Pods.

Nike (650 5th Ave.): Nike’s House of Innovation includes customized shoes, expert advice, tailoring, courier delivery, and more. NYC Concept Store for 2019.

Nordstrom Flagship (57th St & Broadway): 320,000 sq and 7 floors of awesome, including 2 floors for beauty and 100 services such as facials. It is worth a visit just to see the wave-form glass facade, and – my personal fantasy – a cocktail bar in the shoe department 🙂

Puma flagship store on 5th Avenue, NYC
Puma Flagship

Nordstrom Men’s Store (235 W 57th Street ): Nordstrom opened its first and new store in NYC as men-only. Check out the AR projected on the store’s mannequins.

Puma Flagship (609 5th Ave): The athletics brand’s first physical store in North America is massive, and is located close to Nike and Addidas at Midtown. You can check out the F1 racing simulator and test boots in a soccer simulator.

“This location is another place to talk to the consumer.

Bjoern Gulden, Puma CEO

Starbucks/Amazon Go (111 E 59th St.) The first store of two high-tech giants is all about convenience. Amazon now sells its contactless payment platform to partners. You use the Starbuck app to order ahead and the Amazon Go app to shop and “Just Walk Out.”

Vacheron Constantin (28 E. 57th St). In a luxury boutique for expensive watches, you can interact with an in-house watch designer. The retailer offers a Virtual Reality tour of the flagship store.

Retail Concept Stores in Midtown

Signs of retail future? Weed car-mart in Manhattan (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
Signs of retail future? Weed car-mart in Manhattan (Source Ronny Max)

Midtown East is best known for the Grand Central Terminal and United Nations Building. Here are the must-visit retail locations:

Amazon Books (7 W 34th St.): A bookstore to sell devices such as Alexa Echo and Kindles. Pricing is done through the web, with special discounts to Prime Members.

Amazon Go (Brookfield Place): The touchless convenience store has arrived in NYC. You need to be a Prime Member to enter because this is where customers opt-in is to be scanned and analyzed…Check out the first Amazon Go.

BirchBox at Walgreens & Duane Read: Birchbox disrupted retail with its subscription business. In partnership with Walgreens, customers will be able to design their own beauty box in-store. One of the 11 stores is at 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan

Dover Street Market (160 Lexington Ave): Designer clothes mixed with seasonal flavors and a gourmet cafe.

Macy’s (151 W 34th St.): The store-within-store concept is revitalizing the traditional department store.

Petco Pet Kitchen (Union Square): Experimental Retail is not just for humans 🙂 Taking a cue from the many retail stores that now have an in-store cafe, Petco added a live pet food kitchen.

AR in Sephora

Sephora (112 West 34th St): The focus is beauty services, with 15-minute touch-up, 45-minute makeovers, or 90-minute consultations.

Shops at Hudson Yards (West Side Yard 12th Ave): The $25 Billion development, with more than 100 retail stores and a “floor of discovery”, is considered the most expensive shopping center and real-estate development in the United States.

Family Fun in Times Square & Flatiron District, Midtown

Disney store in Times Square, NYC
Disney Store in Time Square (Alex Jacoby)

Cover Girl (Times Square 719 7th Ave): Beauty brands are a trailblazer in Augmented Reality. The CoverGirl store is a fantastic example of the power of being in a physical store where a professional stylist will help you customize your perfect makeup. Did we mention the (AI) Olivia?

Disney Store (Times Square 1540 Broadway): Disney has a long history of using physical locations to build its brand and cross-selling of movies, toys, and theme parks. Got kids? Go to Disney and take a frozen picture

Harry Potter (935 Broadway, Flatiron) Fancy a Butterbeer?  Want to fly over a Hogwarts Castle? Go to the Harry Potter flagship store for family fun.

Hershey’s Chocolate World (Times Square): Personalization & tons of chocolate fun for kids and (young at heart) adults

Levi’s (Times Square): The iconic brand with a new-age Tailor Shop where you can customize jeans with big buttons, colorful patches, and stitch embroidery.  (“I live in Levi’s Jeans” – Ronny Max)

High Line Walk to Chelsea Market

High Line Mile walk from the Shops at Hudson Yards to Chelses
High Line Mile

If you are in New York for a conference in Javitz Center, take a slow stroll through High Line to bohemian Chelsea Market and vibrant Meatpacking district, the coolest locations in NYC where restaurants and nightlife replaced warehouses.

Bed & Beyond (620 Sixth Ave): The remodeled flagship store includes the first-of-its-kind SodaStream bar, a café, and a store-in-store section for Casper mattresses.

Google store (76 Ninth Ave.): Following Amazon and Apple, Google opened its first-ever physical retail store. The store features the Pixel phones, Nest products, and Fitbit wearables. The emphasis on sustainability is built-in.

Neighborhood Goods, Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave): A curated line-up of over 40 brands, a restaurant, and a convenience store, make up this new concept in department stores. The community-oriented store hosts events, themed activities, and seminars on topics such as photography.

The Design & Futuristic Stores in Meatpacking District

Flavors of New York City in RH Flagship Store (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
Flavors of New York City in RH Flagship Store (Source Ronny Max)

RH, formerly Restoration Hardware (9 9th Ave): A stunning new store for upscale furniture and home. Check the rooftop restaurant, wine terrace, and design services.

Virtual Reality in Samsung 837 (Source Ronny Max)
Virtual Reality in Samsung 837 (Source Ronny Max)

Samsung 837 (837 Washington): Smartphone, tablets, and Augmented Reality. A good place to chill out, eat a bite, and play with Augmented Reality.

Cool Boutiques & Vintage Stores in the streets of Soho

The best shopping streets of New York City are in Soho. This tiny hub of streets is full of boutiques and small shops catering to affluent Millennials and self-aspiring students. Always interesting!

Allbirds (68 Prince Street): For lovers of high-end footwear, this is a place to learn more about how to design shoes, including the open-source Sugar Zaffer flipflops.

Allure Store (191 Lafayette St. Soho). The first physical store by Allure Magazine offers a curated selection of cosmetics and beauty products. Focusing on experiential retail, the store has Smart Mirrors with augmented reality and QR Codes.  

Amazon 4Star (72 Spring St): This store displays only products that received votes of 4 plus. This is the power of recommendations in action.

Converse (560 Broadway): This store is simply beautiful. Add a customization lab, and you have a store for the hardcore fans of Converse. Design Rules!

Everlane (28 Prince St.): A brick-and-mortar store with an integrated I.D. system. The wallet-free shopping experience is a “friction-free” online idea.

Kith (337 Lafayette St) The casual footwear store is more than just a cool store in Soho. It’s a lifestyle community for young adults.

Moose Knuckles (57 Green Street): The cool Canadian company with its rugged luxury sportswear opened its first flagship. “This city embodies what Moose Knuckles is about,” says Moose Knuckles CEO Ayal Twik. “It’s raw, it’s real, and one of a kind.

RealReal (80 Wooster St.): The online vintage brand in a boutique-like location with pull-out racks. The magic comes from “personalization of scheduled appointments”.

Rebecca Minkoff (96 Greene St): A retailer that cracked the code for Unified Commerce. Featured Concept Store for 2018.

Shake Shack (51 Astor Pl., East Village): Cashless kiosk restaurant serving roadside burgers, fries, shakes, beer, and more. The future of Quick Service Restaurants (QSR)

Shopify (131 Greet Street, Soho): The online shopping platform giant opened its first flagship store to support the small business community in NYC. The two floors location offers workshops, one-on-one support, and a podcast studio to its online entrepreneurs.

Showfields (11 Bond St. Soho): Advertised as “the most interesting store in the world”, the store aims to combine retail, art, and community. 4 floors of experience

Strands bookstore in East Village NYC
Strand Bookstore

Strand Books (828 Broadway, East Village): The iconic independent book store has three levels of back-to-back books. If you’re looking for a footprint into history and a bricks-and-mortar store with personality, visit the Strand.

Vintage Twin (543 Broadway): A pop-up vintage shop. This chic company is unique because 10% of its proceeds go to charity.

Unique Retail in the Oculus World Trade Center

The innovative shopping and transportation hub of Oculus Mall (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
Oculus Mall

The Oculus Mall (World Trade Center) is simply beautiful. Also if you’re an international visitor, the 9/11 memorial is an eye to what drives America.

Here are stores that are worth a visit:

Apple: A retailer that introduced smartphones and elegant designs to the world is now focused on social communities. There are 2 stores on each level. Always worth a visit.

Burberry:  If you loved Sting’s Englishmen in New York, you’d love this British Brand. Burberry was pivotal in experimenting with shopper personalization.

Casper: famed online brand for… selling mattress. Casper’s way to sell a bland product that people rarely buy is a case study in online and retail innovation. Concept: Showroom for the brand.

As shopping malls turn into Destination Experience Centers, we will see more experimental retail inside metro areas.

South Manhattan from SAP in Hudson Yards (Source Ronny Max) | Behavior Analytics Academy
South Manhattan from SAP offices in Hudson Yards

Stores of the Future are already in New York City

The traditional retailers view the brick-and-mortar store as a tactical sales floor. It means the focus was inventory, real-estate, and controlling payroll costs. But the digital transformation of physical stores demands a mind shift.

So far, the interactions between corporate and the local stores and consumers were one-way. But today, consumers have options, and they demand more.

Nothing is as close as the physical brick-and-mortar store if a retailer wants to get close to its customers.

In the NYC store tour, you see the digital transformation of physical stores. The stores of the future are already in New York City.


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