You recognize upscale preciousness when it takes a brand only 114 years to open a second store in the fashion capital of the American continent, New York City. Saks 5th Avenue, the luxury department store owned by Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest grandee of commercial corporations in the US, has decided to strip of its rarity and embrace its mass appeal. As a result, a new Saks Store will open in Lower Manhattan, only six miles from its iconic flagship store located on Fifth Avenue.
Saks 5th Avenue – The Metamorphosis of a Luxury Empire
Saks 5th Avenue II is planned to open across the street from the World Trade Center, on an 86,000-square-foot location. Sizing way less than its mother ship in Midtown Manhattan, the layout is intentionally thought as better polished and edgier.
Moreover, the senior department store is aiming to cater to a new consumer market, at the same time using a strategy deeply rooted into the sales tactics of times gone by. With an eye into the past and a step ahead into the future, the leading U.S. upscale department store is trying to make Saks a name to inspire equal awe and appetite.
History of the Longest Running Department Store in the US
In previous posts, we covered extensively the paramount changes running across the luxury retail world in recent years. In the last two decades, lux has fallen off its high ladder into the definition of commodity. Department stores saw themselves linked into undifferentiated and dull chains of brands.
Saks 5th Avenue did not and could not stray from the pack. Nowadays, its ambitions focus on just that. Not foregoing their high-level standards of service and well-heeled clientele in the process, Saks 5th Avenue is going to ‘deconstruct’ the concept of a luxury department store.
On September 15, 1924, Saks 5th Avenue was the buzzword in town. Its first opening of doors ushered in a new golden age for the ‘oh-la-la’ department store of the opulent and stylish of the Roaring Twenties.
In time, this Shangri-La of luxury every new immigrant of the new world dreamed of entering one day slipped into the mainstream spending practices of a moneyed and digitally oriented middle-class.
Once retailers introduced discounts and promotions to fuel their annual figures, consumers got wiser. Practicing patience, they knew even luxury items would eventually end up as bargains.
How to Make High-End Shopping Glamorous Again
Now, Sacks is rethinking the strategy. In the new location – Brookfield Place, an office tower that also hosts Hermès and Gucci stores, the department store will again place emphasis on upmarket brands consumers can’t readily afford to buy or find elsewhere. Personalized service is on the table again, with counseling in style and fashion available to those ‘special, loyal customers’.
Sacks 5th Avenue also wants to include an ‘installation’ in its new store– the kind you see in museums. Every month, a different designer will unveil its work to art-and-shopaholics alike. Another feature that characterizes a new turn in the century for Saks is the “Saks Save Me” hotline. Anyone experiencing a fashion emergency or suffering from a broken heel on their new pair of shoes can call in at any time.
However, Saks’s new $250 million brick-and-mortar Manhattan store is a high-risk investment at a time when digital commerce reigns in shoppers’ preferences.