Why Urban Necessities’ New Store in American Eagle Is the Answer to ‘Broken’ Retail

Jaysse Lopez has brought his Las Vegas-based Urban Necessities consignment banner to New York City, securing space to sell rare and hard to find sneakers on Broadway inside American Eagle. And the storeowner is pulling out all stops to impress Big Apple consumers.

“Retail has changed so much that it’s got to be about experience. It’s about finding creative ways to get someone to say, ‘I’ve got to go in there,’ because retail is so broken,” Lopez said. “You’ve got to find ways to motivate your guests to come in.”

To excite shoppers, Lopez will bring barbers and tattoo artists into the store as well as introduce the Makers Studio, where customers can guests look through imagery used on past Urban Necessities merchandise that could be printed on apparel immediately in store. He will also use a Supreme pinball machine to host a monthly high-score tournament, with the winner getting half of the money in the machine as a store credit.

From a product perspective, Lopez said the store will be stocked with a selection of footwear curated specifically to the market. Aside from acclaimed the Adidas Yeezy styles and Air Jordans that dominate resale, the shelves will feature beloved Nike silhouettes such as rare Dunk SBs and Air Force 1s, both staples in NYC fashion.

What you won’t find in the store are items that would compete with what American Eagle sells such as accessories, denim and bottoms. (However, Urban Necessities may stock items such as Just Don shorts in the summer.)

Although there’s excitement surrounding the new venture, Lopez is aware that sneakerheads may question the atypical pairing of Urban Necessities and American Eagle. He, too, had reservations in the beginning.

“When we first started having the conversations, when I spoke with [American Eagle chief commercial officer] Andrew McLean, I was like, ‘This is extremely humbling that you’ve expressed interest in this, but here’s my concern: Is my consumer going to get it?'” Lopez said. “And American Eagle had the understanding that those consumed by sneakers might poke fun at this or say that [American Eagle] isn’t the culture.”

But he quickly learned that their consumer bases weren’t all that different.

“We started getting into who they’re catering to, their demographic, and then I started paying attention to who is walking into my stores. Four out of 10 people walking into the store are wearing American Eagle product,” Lopez said. “They’re one of the biggest vendors of denim in the United States, and I start going to trade shows and all I saw was American Eagle joggers, hoodies, sweaters, pants, T-shirts.”

Only time will tell if the decision to open inside American Eagle was the right move, but Lopez has bet on his instincts before and won.

After opening Urban Necessities in September 2014, he hit $1 million in sales by the end of its first year in operation. Since then, he’s grown the business each year, hitting $20 million in sales in 2018.

While NYC is Urban Necessities’ new home, it won’t be its last. Lopez said he would like to open at least eight more doors and confirmed the next to open is in Toronto, which should debut by October.

Urban Necessities’ new NYC door is now open and can be visited Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. ET to 9 p.m. ET and on Sundays from 11 a.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET.

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