Exclusive: Camp NYC flagship blasts off with high-tech, space-based experience

Experiential retailer Camp has transformed part of its NYC flagship into a space-themed, digitally-enabled flagship.

Camp, the family-friendly experiential retailer, is using a gamification adventure to transport customers — adults and kids alike — into another world.

Camp has built its reputation on blending merchandise with themed hands-on experiences. Taking the concept to the next level, the retailer’s 10,000-sq.-ft. flagship, located in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, debuted its newest experience — one that is largely based on digital elements.

Camp has transformed 8,000 sq.-ft. of the store into a digitally enabled play space called Cosmic Camp. The ticketed experience features interactive games, skill-based challenges and live performances. Working with experiential solutions provider Future Colossal, Camp ’s newest space-age journey is being fueled by augmented reality and projection mapping technology.

“The most prominent element here that is different from our other experiences is the use of technology to create enhanced interactivity for the customer,” Charlie Kwalwasser, Camp’s chief commercial officer, told Chain Store Age.

Camp spent one month designing the concept, and executed the experience within a two-week timeframe. Cosmic Camp, which launched September 6, will run through Oct. 31. Customers can reserve tickets for the hour-long experience on the retailer’s website. Tickets are limited for each time slot, ensuring a safe number of families are admitted into the space.

“As paid experiences become a more regular part of our store format, we'll likely include more of this enhanced interactivity in our theme sets,” Kwalwasser added.

Chain Store Age got a sneak peek at Camp’s digital adventure. Here are just a few of my favorite hands-on experiences:

The Digital Blast-Off: Customers move past the store’s rotating “magical bookshelf” which leads to the “Cosmic Launch Pad.” Here, all players receive a “communicator bracelet” embedded with a sensor that tracks their movements and points earned during each digital challenge.

Getting Physical: Once customers leave the launch pad, they experience Cosmic Camp first-hand. Leveraging AR and projection technology, Camp’s interactive experience features cosmic-themed digital games and physical challenges across dedicated areas within the play space. Customers are invited to earn points by throwing balls (called asteroids) into “black holes,” commanding remote-controlled rover vehicles via joysticks, and navigating physical obstacles and projection mapped lava pools, among other challenges.

An interactive, elevated space station gives children a 360-degree view of the play space, as well as features buttons that activate flashing lights and sounds.

Cosmic Camp also features a 750 sq. ft. space — called the “Campitheater” — which hosts live game shows every 15 minutes, giving customers another way to earn points. A digital screen displaying a daily leaderboard that ranks each team’s performance can be viewed at the conclusion of the hour-long adventure.

The Expanded “Canteen:” The retailer has expanded its merchandise assortment from approximately 500 SKUs to close to 1,000 items, with all items sold in Camp’s retail space, called “The Canteen.” The new merchandise is geared towards space-themed items and the retailer’s private label Cosmic Camp merchandise, including puzzles, games and crafts.

“By keeping Cosmic Camp an exclusive hands-on experience, we have the opportunity to offer more products to our shopping experience,” Tiffany Markofsky, Camp’s chief communications officer, told Chain Store Age.

When the experience ends in October, Cosmic Camp will be rotated and retrofitted into the retailer’s other locations. Camp’s New York City flagship will then prepare for a holiday experience focused on its traditional play, product and programming model.

Camp currently operates six locations, with plans to open three additional stores before the end of the year.

[Read More: Camp stakes out online retail space just for kids]

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