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Department Stores Jump On 2014's Hottest Trend

Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom are all betting on wellness.

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A beauty pop up shop inside Saks’s Wellery Photo: The Saks Wellery

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Wellness — the art of meditating, drinking charcoal, and subscribing to the philosophies of Gwyneth Paltrow — arguably hit peak trendy in 2014 and 2015. Sure, athleisure is still very much a thing, but the country seems to have calmed down a little bit since we first discovered the existence of $60 pre-packaged herbs.

Now, department stores are diving headfirst into wellness. This month, Saks debuted The Wellery, a huge six-month pop-up store and event space on the second floor of the New York City flagship. The set-up includes events like fitness classes and meditation sessions, dedicated boutiques for new athleisure and athletic brands, and wellness-centric beauty treatments (think stuff like “dry salt therapy” and “body contouring”).

On a smaller scale, Bloomingdale’s kicked off a month-long partnership with Grokker, a video-streaming site that’s focused on fitness and healthy eating. For the past two weeks, the department store has also been offering fitness classes inside its New York and California locations, as well as a 30-day online challenge with Grokker.

A row of beauty products at Nordstrom’s Goop pop-up shop Photo: The Goop Pop-Up Shop at Nordstrom

And then there’s Nordstrom, which just announced it’s picking up the holy grail of wellness: Goop. Eight Nordstrom stores across the country now have their own Goop pop-up shops that sell skincare products, vitamins, fancy rocks, cookbooks, and clothing. (The boutiques aren’t permanent, though; each shop will close on June 25th).

The Saks Wellery is by far the most ambitious of the bunch; it includes 22 different shops with spaces dedicated and designed for each partner. There’s an entire studio set aside for the classes, and the build-outs reflect the look and feel of each brand or fitness program that’s participating. And unlike Grokker at Bloomingdale’s and Goop at Nordstrom, it’ll be open for a while.

The next few months will be telling. While Saks’s Wellery is exclusive to New York, Nordstrom x Goop will be scattered throughout the country; will the masses care? And more importantly, will they spend?

These next few months will tell whether this renewed focus on bettering yourself through fitness and beauty means the wellness boom is coming back into the zeitgeist. Either way, it’s just another indicator that department stores are still struggling to keep up with the fast-paced momentum of independent retail, which has been doing this thing for years now.