Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
It's not easy to be a department store in 2016. With Macy's stock in steep decline, the company is in turn-around mode, opening a new outlet store concept and testing out ideas to get millennials in the door. The retailer also stated last year that it planned to refresh its top-performing stores, with new merchandise, more staff, and new technology.
Now we're seeing the first glimpse of this new store concept for Macy's, according to Retail Dive. It will be unveiled at a revamped Macy's location in Columbus, Ohio, where Macy's is testing out a prototype store layout that embraces the store-within-a-store concept.
The Macy's in Columbus will re-open June 25th, featuring a Bluemercury shop complete with beauty products and spa services like facials and waxing. There's going to be an expanded wedding section with a tux shop and a Papyrus card store, as well as an athleisure section.
The shop-in-shop model is reminiscent of JCPenney's efforts under ousted CEO Ron Johnson, which sought to bring in new shoppers by creating in-store boutiques at the department store for brands like Sephora, Mango, and Joe Fresh. It didn't immediately go over well with JCPenney's core shoppers, and the brand seems to be veering away from this model, as Mango and Joe Fresh have both closed their JCP locations in 2015. Perhaps it was just an idea before its time, though, as other competitors like Macy's are now embracing Johnson's department store as mini-mall concept.
The new Macy's Columbus test concept is also pushing personal shopping, adding more stylists to its staff. (But do Macy's shoppers want personal styling services, or are they just there for the store's constant clearances and sales?) We'll have to wait and see if the new model can revive the magic of Macy's, and whether the retailer will roll out the Ohio concept out to more stores.