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Millennials Are Buying Into DSW’s Nail Bar Concept

Hilary George-Parkin

DSW has found one way to get millennial shoppers into stores: build on-site nail salons so they can get a mani/pedi along with that new pair of sandals.

The Columbus, Ohio-based shoe chain introduced its W Nail Bar concept in 2017 at its two hometown locations and last week announced that it will expand to five new stores in 2019: two in Washington, D.C., two in Austin, Texas, and one in Dublin, Ohio.

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At this week’s ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas, CEO Roger Rawlins explained why he’s so bullish on the initiative.

“Of the core DSW customers, 25 percent are millennials,” he said. “Among those accessing our nails services, 55 percent are millennials. It’s the holy grail: more wallet and younger customers, our lifeblood going forward.”

Companies of all sizes are vying for that key generation: In 2019, millennials are between 23 and 38 years old, meaning most have finished college and are making money of their own, and may be shopping for a young family, as well.

Eventually, said Rawlins, the retailer hopes to see 200 to 300 stores in the U.S. offer expanded services like the nail bar, shoe repairs and orthotics — all of which connect to the company’s core offerings while driving more in-person visits. (DSW has a U.S. footprint of over 500 stores.)

“The results have been a home run,” he said. “Customers who have tried it shop twice as frequently, and shopping carts have grown 60 percent on footwear, not counting nails.” The W Nail Bar provides a range of services starting at $29, including manicures, pedicures and waxing, as well as wine and beer (depending on the location). Customers who visit the in-store space can also earn points toward DSW’s VIP Rewards Program, which the company revamped last year.

DSW will report fourth-quarter earnings on Mar. 19.

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