A note from our CEO:
I realize it’s trite to begin a startup-related blog post with the phrase “it’s been a hectic time,” but here we are. It’s been a hectic time at Neighborhood Goods. Truly. I promise.
It’s been just over nine months since we opened our first location at Legacy West in Plano, Texas. We still have so much to learn and so much to improve, but, at its core, our retail experiment has been gathering a lot of momentum.
When we launched, we had about 24 brands in the store. (We’d planned to launch with 10-15, so I remember being particularly proud — I still am, in many respects — of that level of density.) Today, for contrast, we have about 42 active brands in Plano. And, we have another 16 launching over the next six weeks or so. (For industry friends: please think of us as being incredibly operationally efficient. For non-industry friends: it’s a lot. We might die.)
In addition to our long-term friends at Stadium Goods, Buck Mason, Draper James, Primary, Simplehuman, Pure Cycles, The Daily Edited, and others, we’ve also added the likes of Rothy’s, Dollar Shave Club, Fossil, TASCHEN, Burrow, Cynthia Rowley, Wild One, Skylar, R+Co., Hook+Albert, Brightland, Kinfield, Field Notes, and so many more.
The rapid increase in density reflects a lot of learning on our part. We’d always believed brands would want to have, at a minimum, somewhere between 100 and 500 square feet. But that’s not universally true. We’d always known, to an extent, that there’s a vast array of reasons for brands to join us. But I don’t think we’d anticipated quite how differently brands would manifest in our space over time. And so on.
It’s all part of a general recognition that the notion of creating physical framework for digital brands is, in many respects, fairly obvious. The truly difficult and elusive goal is taking that framework and ensuring its compelling, memorable, dignified, and positive for the end-consumer, just as much as it is for brands.
I’ve begun to explain our philosophy as being “lower-case,” in that regard. In context of the conversation the entire retail industry seems to be reckoning with, I’ve settled on the explanation that we are not wanting to build a company that’s focusing on capital-E “Experiences” or capital-A “Authenticity,” but rather the lower-case equivalents of both. (Along with every other buzzword you might imagine.) In lieu of splashy, loud, and fleeting attempts to capture attention, we’re investing in perennially-relevant concepts like storytelling, remarkable design, memorable and hospitable staff, and so on. That’s not to say we won’t introduce playful concepts from time-to-time — we do quite frequently today — but it’s more to say that our focus and commitment to the consumer lies elsewhere.
To that point, we’ve also come to land on a real estate strategy reflective of that philosophy. We’ve focused ourselves on identifying real estate that provides a different set of features and functions, so to speak, befitting different goals on behalf of drastically different brands. Rather than attempting to lure brands into locations purely based on their city name value, we’re focused on what a location might be able to offer a brand (and the consumers on the other end of the conversation) that might foster a more special, localized chemistry in each of our locations.
In Plano, brands are able to test merchandising strategies in a large space, assess new store design concepts, access a thriving suburban market, and host all manner of events. Meanwhile, on the consumer side, the Dallas Fort Worth area tends to be in the top five (or at worst top ten) markets in terms of digital sales. It’s an area dense with ideal customers for many brands. Despite that, in Plano — where many of these customers reside — they’ve been starved for access to these concepts and more modern retail experiences.
Next, we have Chelsea Market opening a little later this year. As we’ll be right on 9th Ave. at the entrance to the Market, it’ll be a significant opportunity for exposure for brands in a thriving area of the city. At the same time, given the nature of the area, the space will be a lot more blended, allowing for much more experimentation around new product types, drive customer acquisition in a remarkable, new way, and participate in a vibrant, almost boutique-like retail space. (All while avoiding the typical costs of opening in Meatpacking.)
Up next — ahem, yes, I am just getting to the announcements — we’re incredibly proud to announce our third location: Austin, Texas’ South Congress. We’ll be joining a new mixed-use development, alongside Soho House, Equinox, Sweetgreen, Lululemon, Buck Mason, Allbirds, and more. As one of the most exciting retail streets in the country with scarce available real estate, the opportunities in the 10,000 square foot space will be significant.
We'll have more to come in 2020.
As we collaborate with brands across these locations, we’re also excited to be rolling out our own brand platform in the near future to provide real-time access to data, sales, inventory, and feedback from our store teams. We've come to appreciate that we're at our best when we're operating in a relational manner with our brands. Ensuring data becomes table stakes will free up an enormous amount of time, while allowing us to have much more productive, insightful, and forward-looking conversations with our partners.
On the consumer side of things, we’re also preparing an overhaul of the site, in addition to multi-store functionality, which will allow for users to localize their web experience for events, food, and the like. We’re also exploring some fun opportunities around in-store pick-up for brands across locations, regardless of where they’re actively merchandised.
Fueling all of these efforts — I promise I’ll be done soon — we’re proud to announce that we’ve raised $11 million led by our long-term partners at Global Founders Capital. We've loved working with Don Stalter and his team since our initial seed round and have been incredibly appreciative of their ongoing insight and support.
Forerunner Ventures, Serena Ventures, Capital Factory, NextGen Venture Partners, Allen Exploration, and all manner of other original investors have also contributed. We’re incredibly proud to have raised these funds primarily from our original group of investors from the beginning and are incredibly grateful for their belief and support.
(It’s also worth noting that the $11 million figure will expand over the coming weeks. But, hey, sometimes you’re up against an SEC Form D filing deadline and have to put out an announcement to ensure you have control of the narrative. Or another situation a lot like that, but different. Regardless, we'll provide an update in a few weeks.)
In the midst of all of the excitement, our team has grown to about 20 at headquarters in Dallas and just over 20 at the store in Plano. We moved into our own Big Kid office in Downtown Dallas and, soon, we’ll be opening a second corporate office in New York, which will begin to expand over the coming weeks and months, while we’re also, naturally, hiring for the Chelsea Market and South Congress locations.
If you’re curious about working at a dynamic, diverse, thoughtful, progressive, and sometimes-hilarious workplace, please peruse our openings. We’d love to chat.
There’s plenty more to come from us this year. We’re looking forward to sharing more about our amazing launch line-up for Chelsea Market, in addition to the new restaurant concept we’re developing for the space. Plus, as I mentioned, we’re continuing to add fantastic brands — and all-new internal store formats — all the time. And that’s not to mention the unbelievable event program we have through the remainder of the year. (We’re hosting the National Retail Federation next week and have Create & Cultivate throwing a fantastic conference in-store on October 5, to name only two in the next few weeks.)
For it all, we’re nothing without our community. We’re incredibly appreciative for all the support, curiosity, wisdom, and kindness we’ve received over the past nine months. And we cannot wait to get to know more of you as we expand around the country.
Oh, also, for the slackers that skipped right to the end (for shame) looking for the TL;DR: amongst other things, we’re proud to announce that we’ve raised $11 million for our Series A. We’ve also announced that our third location will be on South Congress in Austin, Texas. (You can also read CNBC's breaking the news if you want something a bit more succinct and professional and articulate.)
Look at all of these words. Wow. Apologies.
Matt Alexander, Co-founder & CEO