With the advent of e-commerce, many retailers, including department store giants Nordstrom and Macy’s, are exploring new ways to entice customers to shop in person, including curbside pickup, same-day delivery, enhanced technology, interactive in-store experiences, and heightened customer service. Others, including preppy menswear e-commerce brand Bonobos, are eschewing the traditional brick-and-mortar model altogether. Today, the New York–based company announced it will open one of its showrooms—which it dubs “Guideshops”—in the North Loop before the end of the year. Unlike a traditional shopping experience, shoppers don’t leave the Bonobos Guideshop with clothing. Instead, they’re paired up with a “guide” (i.e., a personal fashion consultant), handed a cold beer, and get fitted for clothing. (The shops carry a sample of each style in in every size.) Then, it ships the apparel for free to customers’ homes. Prices range from $100 and $200 for pants and jeans, with dress shirts starting at $98 and suits ranging from $550 to $1,300—a good match for the spending power of North Loop’s residents.
Bonobos will be the first retailer to open in the newly redeveloped Sex World building at 125 Washington Ave. N., which has been renamed the Washington. A site plan for the building shows about 7,800-square feet of retail on the first floor and another 4,700 on the second floor, though the retailers filling those spaces have yet to be announced. The Minneapolis location will be the retailer’s 28th Guideshop since launching the concept in 2012.
While it might sound like a flaw to not have the instant gratification of carrying your purchases out the door with you, the model allows for the shop to carry more sizes, styles, and colors than are usually available in traditional brick-and-mortar stores—without having to deal with overstock and markdowns. Plus, shoppers can avoid the overwhelming feeling that can come with digging through stuffed, messy racks of clothing (a la H&M). But the question remains: Will Minneapolis shoppers will go for this untraditional model—especially when they can get great customer service and take the goods home with them at nearby menswear stores such as Martin Patrick 3?