Industry West is something of a pioneer in the direct-to-consumer home space. Jordan and Anne England launched the brand 10 years ago—literally out of their backyard shed in Jacksonville, Florida, as they told BOH on the podcast last summer—long before the e-commerce landscape was completely upended by mega-retailers like Amazon and Wayfair. The husband-and-wife duo locked in an online market share before customer acquisition channels became highly competitive and expensive.
“With how things have changed online, even in the last three years, customer acquisition can’t be digital alone,” says Jordan. “People want to touch and see things. They want to feel things and know that you make beautiful products. It’s crazy to think that you can get into brick-and-mortar and acquire customers, even at the expense of leasing a space here in New York.”
And yet, that’s exactly what they’re doing. This week, Industry West opens the doors to a 2,750-square-foot retail space on Crosby Street in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. It’s their second location; the first is a smaller store that opened a year ago outside of its headquarters in Jacksonville.
The new space will showcase the brand’s collaborations and new products—for the opening, Industry West’s Cane collection has pride of place in the front of the shop—but only a fraction of their offerings can fit in a single store. So the space will “guide people toward a more tactile experience,” according to Jordan, and point them to the website. Customers will be able sit on stools, feel the finishes, and then explore the complete collection via iPads and a large touchscreen available in the store.
The front of the space looks like a more traditional retail store, with styled vignettes and a chair wall, but the back features a coffee bar, two large tables, and a display of material swatches so consumers can experience finishes that aren’t currently showcased in the products. “If someone comes in and says ‘I like Barcelona-style chairs,’ we can help guide them through everything we offer to help them find what they’re looking for,” says Jordan. “We invest a lot in our digital content, and we want to immerse people in that experience.”
Seventy percent of Industry West’s business comes through the trade, so they see the cafe area as a place for designers to work with clients (there’s also a second floor with a conference room for meetings), but they also want non-trade customers to feel welcome to have an espresso and browse the website.
“We want to be hospitable,” says Anne. “That’s part of who Industry West is. We’re in a new location, we want to encourage customers and clients to stay awhile.” She thinks they’ll be “pleasantly surprised” by the number of non-commercial contract visitors; as they’ve been building out the store, all curious passers-by have been individuals redecorating their homes or looking for a specific piece of furniture (one family actually drove in from Connecticut last weekend because they thought the store already opened).
New York is the company’s single largest market in terms of cities, so it was a natural first choice for expansion. They considered other neighborhoods, but SoHo, with its charming streetscapes and abundance of design brands, was the ideal location. “Crosby Street in particular has an amazing energy,” says Jordan. “And there are a lot of digitally native brands like ourselves that have moved into this area.” Case in point: One Kings Lane, Burrow and Parachute have all opened there within the last 12 months.
So what’s the next city that will be graced with Industry West IRL? A California storefront is coming “in the not-too-distant future,” as that’s the brand’s second-largest market; Austin will follow. But the couple is quick to add that they aren’t in a rush. “We’re going to be patient,” says Jordan, adding that they have no problem waiting for “very, very specific locations.”
Also upcoming: A spin-off home accessories brand called Favor. It’s an opportunity for the couple to cast their net a little wider, while keeping Industry West true to the brand it has cultivated over the last decade. Favor was conceived in part because of the positive response they saw after introducing smaller decor items to the Industry West lineup a few years ago. They initially did not think the brands would overlap, but realized there’s a natural connection in terms of home goods. For example, the coffee bar at the SoHo shop will use dishware that will be sold on Favor. In addition to ceramics, vases and other decor, Favor will also sell children’s items, apparel and jewelry from makers around the world, all curated by Anne’s expert eye.
In the meantime, the partners want to invest in and engage their new community, so expect events, collaborations and seasonal activations in the Crosby Street shop. Says Anne, “It’s sounds corny, but we’re just excited to be here.”