Inside Concepts’ Fresh NYC Store Plan

Concepts store in New York
Concepts store in New York.
Courtesy of store.

After testing the New York market for the past year with an exhibition space dedicated to its latest collaborations, Concepts is planting roots in New York for the long term.

This week, the Cambridge, Mass.-based retailer will open its new location in the same Tribeca space in which it was operating its temporary store. The shop will be stocked with Concept’s key brands, including Nike, New Balance and Asics in the main part of the location, while a pop-up section will feature a rotating selection of collaborations and other projects.

“Retail is changing, growing and moving fast,” said Tarek Hassan, co-owner of Concepts. “We need to show our brands and our partners that we are growing, too. We’ve always been at the forefront, but you can’t stay on top if you stay still.”

The store will reopen with a new look that mixes wood, cement and brick details. “We’re going in the opposite direction of other retailers who are doing everything white and clean,” Hassan said, noting that he was inspired by retail trends in Japan.  “You will feel a part of the store right away.”

Hassan said that through the temporary space, he learned that New York consumers were excited to have the shop in their backyard. “With all of our collaborations, we had lines out the door,” he said.

Now that he has more space to play with, Hassan plans to make a bigger statement with key brands. “I’m always excited about what Nike has — that’s a brand you can rely on. I’m also excited about what New Balance is doing. I see a lot of excitement in New Balance right now — there’s a lot of energy happening there,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to what Adidas is doing with Boost and Kanye, some of their running and the classic stuff. I’m seeing some excitement from Converse as well.”

Concepts store in New York Inside the Concepts store in New York. Courtesy of store.

Vendors also view the New York store as a smart move. “Concepts has been an important partner for New Balance over the years, from collaborating on limited releases to supporting the local Boston community,” said Steve Gardner, GM of New Balance Lifestyle. “Their permanent expansion to New York City only strengthens their position in sneaker and street culture and allows greater opportunities for larger and significantly impactful program launches, not only for New Balance but the entire footwear community.”

Hassan said the retailer is committed to stocking up-and-coming labels in addition to its tried-and-true brands. “I always look for something new, something fresh,” he said. “I’m always open to anybody that makes sense, who’s on the right track.

“A young kid in Boston just started his own company, Freeman Plat — he’s making shoes out of Portugal,” Hassan continued. “I saw something in him, so of course, I picked it up. It doesn’t mean it’s going to fly today or it’s going to be the best, but we have no problem trying it in our stores. We’re not here just to play with the big guys.”

Going forward, Hassan hinted that the retailer’s expansion will ultimately extend far beyond New York. “We are going to be making a statement not just in Boston and New York, but globally,” he said.
— With contributions by Katie Abel.

[Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in print 11/16/15]

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