2019.10 Release Notes
Wow. Look at all of us. Here. Together. Having the time of our lives. Quantifying things. Noting changes. Great.
October was an interesting month for your close friends at Neighborhood Goods. From largescale events to a revised brand launch cadence, the store saw continued growth in its key metrics, while we continued our semi-inadvertent efforts to drive our bodies and souls into the ground under the sheer weight of brand launches, moves, and general effort.
But we’ll get to that. For now, October by the numbers:
- Locations Open: 1
- Locations Under Construction: 1
- Average Dwell Time: 33m 15s (up from 31m 7s in September)
- Total Active Brands: 54 (up from 44 in September)
- Brand Launches: 11 (up from 10 in September)
- Brand Exits: 3 (up from 2 in September)
- Events: 8 (down from 12 in September)
- Moves: 109 (up from 43 in September)
- Products Inbounded: 1334 (down from 4,760 in September)
- Burgers flipped: 171, plus 140 sliders (up from 168 in September)
First things first, we saw average dwell time extend rather significantly to 33 minutes and 15 seconds in October. That two-minute difference is almost the length of a song! But not quite. Wow. Facts.
As I’ve shared before, it is our responsibility, as custodian of the stories of these brands, to create a dynamic, welcoming, and magnetic space. For it all, that’s very much an effort in fostering a certain degree of comfort in the room.
I think people have forgotten that retail can be an extraordinarily anxiety-inducing and self-conscious experience for people. If you foster an entirely transactional environment — say, for instance, where your staff are incentivized solely by commission — you’re likely to create a highly pressurized and problematic environment for people.
Conversely, if you skew much too heavily toward a capital E Experiential environment, you’ll certainly allow for people to dwell in the room, but you’ll likely give them very little reason to transact or, perhaps more concerning, return to the store altogether.
For us, as I’ve shared before, we’ve been tirelessly trying to pursue something a little different. We want to provide a lower-case E experience, in the sense that our store can — and should — offer a dignified, thoughtful, and relevant experience. No one will be hounding you about purchasing, while you can also use our app for an entirely self-guided experience. Rather, we can focus our efforts on fostering something much more perennial and memorable.
At the same time, we’ve arrived at a certain cadence of launches and exits — alongside the correct and appropriate level of product density — to provide people with a real reason to return and spend time. Although we certainly want people to shop with us, we don’t want to find ourselves in the position of having sales signs emblazoned on our windows or creating fleeting, flimsy reasons for you to visit us. Instead, we want to focus our efforts on creating genuine curiosity.
(And that’s not to mention our events and F&B.)
So, for all of this, monitoring dwell time has been an encouraging and informative exercise. It’s a good — albeit incomplete — indicator of our efforts in this regard, alongside repeat purchase rates and the like. And, as we continue to see dwell time lengthen — particularly in the context of rising conversion rates and the like — we certainly feel the thesis paying off.
Looking ahead into November and December, I have to imagine dwell will shift rather meaningfully downward. I could be wrong, but, at this time of year, retail becomes a little less leisure and a little more competitive contact sport. So, we’ll be curious to keep track.
And we’ll have multiple stores — sporting drastically different formats — to monitor soon, too.
At the end of October, we had 54 active brands, more than doubling our initial launch line-up of brands from 11 months ago.
As we approach our first anniversary (i.e., November 17), it’s quite stunning to reflect on these shifts. We saw a high-converting and exciting launch, but we all recognized that we could accommodate more.
It was always going to be a slow and cautious path to assessing the correct density. We likely could’ve pushed another 20 brands live in, say, January or February, but we would’ve been unquestionably inefficient in doing so. And we would’ve likely created a jarring moment for the consumer, while doing far too little justice to the brands.
Instead, we’ve steadily ramped up over the past 10-11 months, particularly since the summer. And there’s a clear and obvious trend in transaction volume, dwell time, repeat purchase rate, and other such metrics coinciding with this increase in density.
It’s unclear if we’ve arrived at — or are close to — our ceiling for Legacy West. I suspect we’re not far away. Regardless, as I’ve shared in previous Release Notes, our focus is — and always has been — the feeling of the space. And it certainly feels good today.
In terms of additions, we were excited to launch 11 brands in October, including some firsts for physical retail:
- Hill City
- Mott & Bow
- Rec Room
- The Tot
- Milk & Honey
- L’Or de Seraphine
- Aston Martin
- Beni Rugs
The Tot had experimented with a number of events at Neighborhood Goods in recent months, so we were excited to bring them into a full space. We were also thrilled to bring in partners like Hill City to experiment with physical retail, as well as DSTLD, Mott & Bow, Rec Room, and others.
Hill City and Rec Room, in fact, created a new category-driven space, alongside Tonal, for the athletic-minded of our customers. We’ve been excited to host appointments for people to assess Tonal in-person.
Our partners at Fossil continued their fascinating experiment and overhauled their space to launch Diesel. While we also hosted Aston Martin for an experimental event and retail launch.
We also saw exits from long-time friends and partners Bembien and Ron Dorff, as well as our local partners at Southcott Threads.
On the event front, we had a few notable events, including Create & Cultivate, which attracted a few hundred attendees.
We’d been chatting with Jaclyn and the team at Create & Cultivate for over a year, so it was exciting to finally follow-through and collaborate. And it was particularly exciting that we could have the event feature some of our favorite partners like Nichole Powell (Kinfield), Cat Chen (Skylar), and Jessica Assaf (Prima).
We also played host to a number of private events for the likes of Harvard and Frito-Lay, which continues a trend of groups and companies booking out the space.
In October, we introduced new bags for our visitors. On the topic, I reached out to Brooke Davis, who leads design for Neighborhood Goods, to get her notes on the project.
In terms of priorities, she shared that the absolute top priority was the creation of a sturdy, reusable, and recyclable bag. For those gift-giving, they’d be structured enough to give to someone as a gift. Equally, they’d have enough durability that you could use them in your day-to-day life far after leaving the store.
They emphasize our playfulness, leveraging our different colors for each size, while also including a pattern on the gusset and foil-stamped and embossed logo.
As something that can be so easily forgotten, we’re incredibly proud of how these turned out. All credit to Brooke, Miekala, Fallon, and everyone else that touched the project.
- On the brand launch front, we've shifted to bundled bi-weekly launches. This has allowed for a lot of operational efficiency, as well as allowing for much more effective training, marketing, and otherwise. It’s not perfect quite yet — and we still have to allow for a certain amount of fluidity — but it’s been much more manageable.
- In terms of moves, this number is up significantly over September, despite featuring a similar amount of launches/exits. The reason is that we reformatted a lot of the store, particularly gearing up for November launches, Cyber Week, and Holiday.
- As discussed in last month's notes, we're now keeping track of our event-specific burgers, our sliders, for your quantifiable enjoyment. (Again, this isn't the full picture, but it's better than nothing.)
During a recent board meeting, I included a slide showing an upcoming timeline of events for the company. Although there are some big dates on the immediate horizon (ahem Chelsea ahem), many of the points were devoted to incoming hires.
Our corporate team is rapidly approaching 30 employees, while we’ve been excited to welcome a number of people to our modest new NY office, too. Our store team at Legacy West has been expanding, while we’re also now in the midst of wrapping-up hiring for Chelsea Market. (If you’re curious about joining our store team, have a peek at our job postings today!)
Of particular note, we’ve been excited to welcome renowned designer and retailer, Steven Alan, to the team. He’ll be helping to lead our burgeoning private label and collaborative efforts.
In October, we also welcomed Ashley Conger as my Chief of Staff, Lindsay Mason as our Director of Store Operations, and more.
In November, we’re adding some fantastic people from a number of similarly fantastic companies in the consumer space. We’ve been working on their roles for quite some time, so we will be excited to share more over the coming weeks.
On November 17, we celebrated the first anniversary of our opening at Legacy West in Plano, Texas. To celebrate, we introduced a new annual tradition, A Year of Stories, last week. And I wrote some thoughts about our anniversary over the weekend.
Beyond that, for those with a keen eye, you may’ve noticed that, although our website is largely aesthetically the same, we’re actually running on an entirely new and different back-end and code-base. When we announced our Series A, we alluded to some big changes coming to our web experience. The foundational groundwork is now in place. (Well done, Emily and team.)
More to come on this front very soon.
And, finally, the big topic: Chelsea Market. We’re opening imminently and have announced we’ll have 40 brands (or more) at launch. You can read another verbose post on that topic, if you so desire.
For everyone who jumped right to the end in hope — perhaps even expectation! — of a TL;DR, you’re in luck: a lot happened in October. So much more to come over the next few days and weeks. The end. Fin. Bye.