If you live in a city, chances are you don't find yourself going to big box hardware stores very often. After all, a good portion of city dwellers live in rental homes and don't need to buy new appliances or lighting fixtures—let alone paint the stairs or patch some drywall.
Nonetheless, one of those retailers, Lowe's, is trying to tap into this demographic by building an urban concept store in the heart of Manhattan. Their reasoning? Even cramped apartment renters have need for small appliances, electronics, and storage solutions.
To cater to these customers, Lowe's had to completely reimagine their retail space. For starters, they decided to make the location much smaller than the sort of megastore you'd find out in the suburbs.
"We don’t need 120,000 square feet when we have a million square feet of product available (from) 10 surrounding stores through our selling system," Michael Ricciardi, a Lowe's spokesman, told the New York Daily News. The new store, which is located in the Upper West Side, is just 30,000 square feet.
For its inventory, Lowe's chose products that fit the needs of city living. For example, the store has an entire section devoted to bike storage. It also offers bathroom vanities that are just 18 inches across, perfect for tiny apartments.
Since it can't hold as much inventory as its suburban counterparts, the store relies on touchscreen displays to fill in the gaps. The Daily News reports the new locations will feature only a handful of appliances on display, but with a giant touchscreen in the large appliances section, shoppers can view dozens of other models.
In addition to the unique inventory, the store offers some free services to New Yorkers, including plant potting, key cutting, and blind cutting.
The concept also puts a twist on purchasing. According to the Daily News, all of the store's employees will carry "mobile devices" that can scan products and complete credit card purchases on the spot. And if you order a product from a touchscreen, you will have the options of same- or next-day delivery.
Lowe's isn't the first big box retailer to attempt urban-format stores. Target launched a similar initiative called City Target, and recently opened its biggest location—and first on the East Coast—in Boston. Given the dominance that these chains hold over suburban and rural America, it only makes sense that they're starting to eye urban locales. The only question is whether they can get the format right.
The new Lowe's urban concept store is located at the corner of Broadway and 68th Street. A second location will be opening in Chelsea this September.