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August 24, 2017
August 24, 2017

When I moved to a beautiful suburb of New Jersey 30 years ago, I was enchanted by its downtown. Charming shops dotted the streets. There was a newspaper stand, a lingerie shop, a fabulous antique store, a candy store, several shoe stores, and a custom shirt maker. If you needed a bathrobe or you wanted to pick up the latest issue of Vogue, it was all there. There was even a Parisian-style café selling homemade goods where you could meet a friend for a slice of carrot cake and conversation.

Now many of the stores are empty, and that’s not unusual in suburbia. The foot traffic is light, the stores tend to be undercapitalized so they can’t weather a soft opening, and (of course) the internet is a ferocious competitor. It’s hard to compete when you can click on Amazon and find what you are looking for. Convenience seems to trump the elegant gift wrap, the relationship with the retailer, and the delight of walking in the street rather than in an enclosed mall.

While “Mom and Pop” stores may be a thing of the past, savvy retailers who want to remain in downtown are recognizing there’s a void for the destination experience. Unless a store is a destination, it will not survive. It’s that simple.

So in walks Bluemercury, an authentic “destination” store for name-brand beauty and skin treatment products. While it may require finding a parking space (it is suburbia after all), Bluemercury (along with Paper Source and LuluLemon) are saving downtowns across the country. Strategically located (similar to Mercedes-Benz that opens dealerships in towns where the income level is substantial), the stores are beautifully designed and carefully curated to offer well-known products (as well as new and trendy lines). The sales staff is knowledgeable. The stores are well-stocked with samples of even the most expensive lines. And since they’re street level you can test a beauty product in natural light. Bluemercury’s growth is not only enviable but an invitation to other high-end stores to open a location. Their presence is a confirmation there’s a strong market for high-end products. Their beautiful stores cajole the customer to spend disposable income in a happy and welcoming environment. And while there’s a negative image of living in suburbia, Bluemercury gives customers a sense of urban living where you can stop in, get what you want, and then grab a coffee.


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