The renovated Lower East Side door, which opens Tuesday, is a deep dive into the retailer’s love for cinema. The Allen Street entrance features a movie theater marquee and a ticket window. Inside, there’s a fully functional concession area, with high-end treats curated by Napoleon’s Hat Coffee Consulting founder Gabriel Navarro. And consumers will now try on sneakers in movie theater seating.
But what’s most compelling about the store is its appearance after-hours.
When the boutique closes, a screen drops down from the ceiling along with two projectors — one facing the screen from Allen Street and the other from Orchard Street.
The projectors will play movies or brand partner videos throughout the night. Red curtains, reminiscent of those in your local theater, move from the entrances to the screen to cover the product on the walls. And the seats — which are placed facing the screen from both entrances — provide the illusion of film buff taking in the latest must-see motion picture.
Extra Butter broke ground on the renovation in June, but plans for this execution date back to September 2016, when co-owner Ankur Amin joined industry veteran Jeff Staple on a trip to Japan to experience the country’s exceptional retail firsthand. (A month after the trip, Staple was named creative director of TGS, the parent company of Extra Butter.)
Amin said that while touring Japan, he was most impressed with the buildouts at stores such as Soph, The Park-Ing Ginza and NSW — all designed by renowned architect Nobuo Araki.
“We were at a café walking up the stairs, and Ankur said, ‘Who is the architect that does all this stuff?’” Staple said. “They were all done by the same guy, Araki. We joked, ‘We should get him to EB.’”
He took some convincing.
“With Araki, the experience of that was the opposite of what you would think. He wasn’t trying to get this project; we were courting him to do it,” Amin said. “We all were sitting at [Lower East Side café] Russ & Daughters, and I remember trying to sell him.”
Despite the new eye-catching aesthetic, Staple believes Extra Butter won’t sacrifice its intimate feel.
“We wanted it to be a neighborhood store; we wanted it to feel local. We wanted to avoid becoming grandiose, bigger and badder,” Staple explained. “When you walk in the store, there’s no feeling of intimidation, like these guys are balling out of control. It’ll be like they took the soul of their foundation and amped it up to the nth degree, but all in a very digestible model.”
The team is undecided whether they will replicate the theater design in its Rockville Centre, N.Y., door, where Extra Butter began. Amin said that by January he hopes to know if he will renovate that store or close it and open in another Long Island-area location.
While it remains to be seen how customers feel about the new look, enlisting Araki’s design services has already paid off.
“The Japanese brand Neighborhood is a difficult brand to stock,” Staple said. “We emailed them to try to get them into Extra Butter, and they said, ‘We heard Araki is doing you guys, so let’s have a meeting.’ That’s how much clout he has.”
Staple said the new look will have a profound impact not only on product Extra Butter will deliver, it will influence future collaborations and events.
“Because we have this platform, we can now decide June is ‘Pulp Fiction’ month. We’ll screen ‘Pulp Fiction’ plus films that inspired it every Friday night, get your gourmet popcorn and soda, sit in our theater seats,” Staple said. “The EB private-label collection will be ‘Pulp Fiction’-inspired, and we’ll do a collaboration with Adidas on a shoe. It’s this completely holistic screening, product, collab, in-store activation.”
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