Brooklyn-Born West Elm Stirs The Pot with Market

When West Elm first opened in Brooklyn, the Williams-Sonoma concept store targeted post-college Gen-Xers, furnishing that first apartment. These sophisticated, mostly professional women on the verge of affluence were, at the time, an underserved segment; and Williams-Sonoma knew West Elm could become the gateway to its higher-price-point brands — even Pottery Barn Kids, and PB Teen, later down the line. 

Despite its presence in most malls and urban centers, Williams-Sonoma maintains a reputation for being quite conservative in building out concepts. Historically testing the market with catalogs and e-commerce first, stores are expensive and often the last channel they focus on. 

But now eight years after that first West Elm opened and with 37 stores around the country, Williams-Sonoma is teasing DUMBO residents with a new concept store called West Elm Market, scheduled to open Oct 25th. (The URL appears to redirect to westelm.com at the moment.)

Like the shopper who isn’t quite ready to spend $3K on a Pottery Barn sofa but will buy a $900 West Elm chaise, the West Elm Market shopper isn’t likely to spend thousands of dollars on Williams-Sonoma cutlery or cookware and certainly isn’t waiting for a wedding registry to get what the window describes as Kitchen, Care & Repair, Garden, and Personal Care: 

It’s a smart idea and makes me wonder why City Targets (aka the small footprint stores) didn’t think through a similar strategy to deeply refine inventory toward a tangible, niche consumer offering. So as oppose to Target, but smaller, a Target Loft (or some such branding), offering its newly renamed Threshold and partnership brands might have resonated well.

Rumination aside, I love a good kitchen shop and as someone who probably fits perfectly into the brand’s target demo- and psychographic, I am keenly awaiting those doors to officially open. 


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