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Exclusive: Bloomingdale’s Sets ‘Bloomie’s’ Small Store Concept

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David Moin
·4 min read
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Bloomingdale’s is launching a small-store concept to help drive expansion, WWD has learned.

The new format will be called “Bloomie’s,” long a commonly used nickname for the retailer.

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The first Bloomie’s — a 22,000-square-foot setting at the Mosaic District two-million-square-foot lifestyle center in Fairfax, Va., near Washington, D.C. — is under construction and is expected to open in fall 2021. The Mosaic District has dining, retail, fitness, beauty, entertainment and residential components. It’s run by Edens, a retail real estate owner, operator and developer.

Bloomingdale’s sources said the new store concept will be a “smaller, highly edited and service-driven location.” If the prototype is successful, additional Bloomie’s could be built. The idea is to provide fill-in locations in cities and suburbs that support full-line Bloomingdale’s department stores, and to provide consumers with an alternative destination to shop, make returns or pick up packages ordered online.

While it’s far from an ideal time to open new stores due to the pandemic, Bloomie’s poses less risk and financial obligation to Macy’s Inc. given its smaller size. Bloomingdale’s also has a “cautious, surgical” approach to expansion, as its chairman and chief executive officer Tony Spring has told WWD in the past.

The Bloomie’s concept falls within Macy’s Inc.’s overall three-year “Polaris” strategy centered around closing at least 125 Macy’s stores, streamlining staff, as well as expanding off-price and off-mall retail concepts, namely Market By Macy’s, a specialty concept with two locations in Texas, and Backstage, the multi-unit off-price division of Macy’s. About a year ago, Bloomingdale’s closed its Miami store in The Falls mall and cut some staff, per the Polaris strategy.

Bloomingdale’s declined to offer further details of Bloomie’s, though as a scaled-down version of Bloomingdale’s full-line department stores, it’s likely to carry a limited assortment of some of Bloomingdale’s most successful categories — advanced contemporary women’s fashion, beauty and accessories. It could not be learned whether men’s wear would be sold at Bloomie’s, and it’s not likely that home products such as furniture and mattresses would be sold because of the space required to display those products.

Bloomie’s could support the two Bloomingdale’s department stores in the region, in Tysons Corner Center in Tysons Corner, Va., and in Wisconsin Place in Chevy Chase, Md. Macy’s and Bluemercury, which like Bloomingdale’s are divisions of Macy’s Inc., also operate stores in the region.

Bloomie’s would not be the first scaled-down Bloomingdale’s format. There are Bloomingdale’s SoHo in Manhattan, and Bloomingdale’s in the Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles, which are both about 80,000 square feet. Briefly in the late Eighties, Bloomingdale’s operated “Bloomie’s Express,” a small shop for Bloomingdale’s logo-ed merchandise and travel items in Kennedy International Airport. The format never took off.

Bloomingdale’s full-line department stores are generally in the 150,000-square-foot to 250,000-square-foot range, with the exception of the large Manhattan flagship, at over 800,000 gross square feet, and a few around 120,000 square feet.

“There is opportunity for Bloomingdale’s to surgically expand compared to its competitive set which is really going into more of an editing mode,” Spring said in a recent WWD interview. “We don’t have too many stores. We have a younger customer. Some competitors are struggling.”

Bloomingdale’s operates 34 Bloomingdale’s stores and 20 Bloomingdale’s, The Outlet Stores, across the U.S. In addition, Bloomingdale’s has two licensed stores in the Middle East, in Dubai and Kuwait.

The last Bloomingdale’s department store to open was a three-level, 150,000-square-foot unit in the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, Calif., in March 2020. The upscale department store chain could expand with stores in Texas, Washington, Michigan and Arizona, where there are no Bloomingdale’s, as well as the Boston area, where Bloomingdale’s has only one store in Chestnut Hill, Mass. In 2019, Bloomingdale’s generated $3 billion in volume.

The Bloomies concept is reminiscent of the Nordstrom Local concept launched three years ago in the L.A. market, where there are currently five Nordstrom Locals operating. There are also two Nordstrom Local units operating in Manhattan.

Nordstrom executives have characterized Nordstrom Local as “a convenient service hub located in neighborhoods where Nordstrom customers live and work,” so trips to actual Nordstrom stores farther away can be avoided. Nordstrom Local provides such services as order pickups, returns, alterations, stylists for wardrobe consulting and gift wrapping. They’re not mini-versions of Nordstrom stores and there’s no merchandise displayed, aside from a handful of items in the back of the store by a touch-screen for online shopping, or what Nordstrom stylists have gathered to show clients coming in. It’s also a piece of Nordstrom’s overall strategy to get closer to customers, get them more engaged, provide faster deliveries, and more seamless shopping experiences, channel to channel.