Bloomingdale’s brought a little bit of New York to Southern California yesterday, when the retailer hosted a press preview of its newest location at the renovated Santa Monica Place, scheduled to open on Aug. 6.
Charles Anderson, SVP and director of stores, said the goal of the store was to take design elements from the company’s Soho store and local styling ideas. For example, instead of Bloomingdale’s trademark black and white marble tiled floors, this location features black and white exposed concrete for a more relaxed and whimsical look, said Anderson.
He added that the 100,000-sq.-ft. store as a whole is more colorful and laid-back than even the company’s other Los Angeles-area locations. “Color is much more important here [in product and fixtures] than at our Century City flagship, which is more professional, or even our Beverly Center store,” he said. “This store is sort of an homage to Santa Monica culture, but customers always tell us to bring some New York, too.”
While the footwear brand assortment is the same as at other locations, Anderson said the styles within collections lean toward the trendy and contemporary. Women’s brands include Burberry, Cynthia Vincent, Dolce Vita, Frye, Giuseppe Zanotti, Loeffler Randall, Marciano, Sam Edelman, Tory Burch, Ugg and Vera Wang. The men’s department features Adidas, Billy Reid, Converse, Creative Recreation, Ferragamo, Generic Surplus, Hugo Boss, Nike, Sperry Top-Sider, Tretorn and Vans.
A broad assortment of footwear styles was important, said Anderson, to draw in customers from all over the Los Angeles area. “We didn’t want to be too edited,” he said. “We will have customers from Pacific Palisades and Brentwood in addition to Santa Monica.”
The store will also feature a new approach to customer service, said Anderson. Store personnel are now all trained to work with customers in every department and travel with them throughout the store to create head-to-toe looks. “We want the service experience to be more fluid,” he said. “This isn’t the typical department store experience.”
A dedicated Style Bar area will allow the store to experiment with a revamped personal shopping service. Stylists can work with consumers to put together outfits or an entire wardrobe. The section features dramatic, white, pod-shaped dressing rooms that descend from the ceiling.
The opening marks the first time Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom will compete head-to-head in a new mall — the Nordstrom location opens Aug. 27 — so the emphasis on service is critical, Anderson said. “We’re competing with our assortment and with our selling process,” he said. “Our focus is on service and the quality and quantity of our team.”