The new Urban Outfitters Space Ninety 8 concept store in Williamsburg.

Coffee, Tea or a T-Shirt? New York Specialty Retailers Woo Customers With Coffee Shops

The new coffee bar at Urban Outfitters’ 5th Avenue location.

The new coffee bar at Urban Outfitters’ 5th Avenue location.

Omni-channel is the retail buzzword of the moment, but retailers must continue to maximize their largest investment—brick-and-mortar stores, especially those located in high profile and high rent Manhattan locations. In addition to sharpening their merchandise presentations with exclusive product, Club Monaco, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, and others have gone one step further. They’ve added coffee shops, and in one case even an upscale restaurant, to their stores.

Food has long been an important component of the shopping experience at department stores, with light meals, lunch, and dinner offered at Lord and Taylor, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, and Bergdorf Goodman. Now specialty retailers are adding another convenience for harried New Yorkers with no time for a sit down meal. Customers can pick up their favorite beverages to go and may browse the merchandise on their way in or out.

Toby’s Estate Coffee at Club Monaco on 5th Avenue.

Toby’s Estate Coffee at Club Monaco on 5th Avenue.

Toby’s Estate Coffee at Club Monaco
At Club Monaco’s Flatiron 5th avenue location, which underwent an extensive renovation last fall, Toby’s Estate Coffee shop has a separate entrance and opens earlier than the store to cater to workers and neighborhood residents in need of their early morning caffeine fix. Toby’s can also be accessed from the Strand Bookstore outpost inside Club Monaco. The clean vintage style blends well with the elegant Club Monaco design aesthetic and seating inside and out invites customers to linger.

Uniqlo boasts the first Starbucks inside a specialty store.

Uniqlo boasts the first Starbucks inside a specialty store.

Starbucks at Uniqlo
Uniqlo on upper 5th avenue recently added a Starbucks on their second floor, the first Starbucks in a specialty store. On the rainy April day when I visited, there was a steady line for coffee and the nearby lounge area was filled with customers. A selection of exclusive tees licensed from MoMA and Vera Bradley were displayed a few feet away.

The new Urban Outfitters Space Ninety 8 concept store in Williamsburg.

The new Urban Outfitters Space Ninety 8 concept store in Williamsburg.

Coffee, Cocktails and Dining at Urban Outfitters
A few blocks down 5th Avenue from Uniqlo, near Grand Central, the Urban Outfitters Manhattan flagship recently added a coffee bar on the mezzanine level. But the retailer’s more ambitious food and drink offerings are at the company’s new Space Ninety 8 concept store in Williamsburg. A 100-year-old warehouse was gutted and transformed into a 37,000 square foot space with a DIY aesthetic showcasing apparel, footwear, and accessories for men and women, with select assortments from local vendors and exclusives to Space Ninety 8.

The Gorbals Restaurant and Bar, operated by Top Chef winner Ilan Hall will be on the third floor. The bar is already open and just a few steps away from the Men’s department. Upstairs a roof bar with plenty of space for a crowd has the same DIY aesthetic, a small garden, and a sweeping view of Williamsburg and its namesake bridge.

At Space Ninety 8 you can go right from shopping to cocktails.

At Space Ninety 8 you can go right from shopping to cocktails.

Food Vendors at Opening Ceremony
Back in Manhattan, Opening Ceremony, a multi-faceted retailer with their own private label line, designer collaborations and more, installed a pop-up market last September at historic Pier 57. It took place at Hudson River Park during the company’s first fashion week runway show and featured food vendors and other shops staged in shipping containers.

Opening Ceremony recently received an investment infusion from Berkshire Partners, a private equity firm. Imagine what new concepts that company founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim might create and curate with an even larger budget.

These savvy specialty retailers are giving shoppers another reason to enter—and linger—in their stores. It’s enhancing the shopping experience with extras that just can’t be replicated online.