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Ready for Prime Time


For all their differences, the shopping center owners and brokers from around the world who will gather at the end of May in Las Vegas for retail real estate’s annual RECon confab are alike in that they are all on the lookout for new retail concepts to lure and entice shoppers.

The good news is that there are plenty of newer brands ready to spread their wings. Some have been around for a couple of years, but are flush with new financing. Many are formerly pure players now turning their attention to physical stores.

“The surprising trend of 2015/2016 is the number of online retailers that have realized that they also need a brick-and-mortar presence,” said industry consultant Jeff Green, president and CEO, Jeff Green Partners. “Some of these online retailers, such as Bonobos and Warby Parker, have become the targeted retailers of the future, and shopping center owners are rushing to get to them first.”

None of the brands listed below are household names — at least not yet. But they show plenty of potential for prime-time retail. Here’s a rundown:

• Adore Me: The fast-growing online lingerie retailer targets young women with its low prices, wide variety of styles and a personalized shopping experience that offers a curated selection tailored to each customer’s specific style and size preferences. It’s now testing how to recreate the experience in the physical space, opening an appointment-only store at its headquarters.

• Duluth Trading Co.: Duluth Holdings built its brand online, and now, fresh off its move public, the apparel retailer sees the potential for as many as 100 Duluth Trading Co. stores. Duluth describes itself as a lifestyle workwear brand for the modern, self-reliant American. Stores are engaging and entertaining, and each one has a theme, displays, photos and found objects that honor “hardworking” men and women past and present.

• Flying Tiger: The Danish retailer sells an eclectic mix of quirky and colorful home goods, accessories and tchotchkes — much of it designed in-house and priced under $15 — in a fun, maze-like format. It made its U.S. debut last summer, in Manhattan, where it recently opened a second location.

• NYX Cosmetics: The online cult makeup brand — often described as a Mac for the masses — went offline in September, and is quickly ramping up its mall presence with locations on both coasts. NYX stores are a playground for beauty junkies, and combine digital technology with a hands-on, self-learning environment that includes interactive makeup stations.

• Sweaty Betty: This London-based Lululemon competitor has opened four stores in the U.S. to date. But the pricey brand, known for its fashion-forward, colorful stylings and in-store classes, is gearing up for growth across America. In December, it named former Bain & Co consultant Erika Serow as its U.S. CEO after receiving a new round of growth funding from private equity firm Catterton.

• YogaSmoga: The made-in-America, yoga-inspired athletic apparel retailer is on a tear, online and off. With 14 stores nationwide, the brand has set a goal of 100 stores by 2018. It will open 25 stores this year. Positioned in the high end of the athletic wear market, YogaSmoga develops and manufactures all its products in the United States, and utilizes “eco-conscious dyeing practices” to create its proprietary fabrics.

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