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Macy's Adds Experiential Store-Within-A-Store To 36 Locations

Macy's is rolling out an experiential store-within-a-store concept called Story in 36 locations nationwide. 

One of the new Story concepts at Macy's

The Story concept will feature a changing array of themes, with each theme lasting a few months. The inaugural theme is "Color," which will include product offerings and events inspired by various colors.

Along with changing themes, Story will offer a rotating selection of merchandise, just as the original Story location in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan did, shifting its offerings every four to eight weeks.

Macy's bought Story in 2018 and tapped its creator, Rachel Shechtman, as its brand experience officer, focusing on in-store experiences.

The initial offerings at Story will include about 400 products from 70 different small businesses, including clothes but also consumables like chocolate and coffee, according to Macy's. The retailer's goal is to make Story a "gifting destination."

The department store company is also investing in new employees to make the concept more lively. In the lead up to the launch, Macy's hired more than 270 Story Managers, who participated in “Know + Tell,” an experiential retail training program devised by Macy's. 

The move by Macy's is explicitly about trying to persuade consumers to come to its stores in an age when department stores are suffering. According to the Census Bureau, sales at department stores were down 4% year over year in February, the latest data available.

"Story gives new customers a fresh reason to visit our stores and gives the current Macy’s customer even more reason to come back again and again throughout the year,” Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette said in a statement.

Macy's did not unveil a timetable for further expansion of Story, should the concept be successful.

Story is not the first time Macy's has introduced a store-within-a-store concept. In 2015, the company acquired Bluemercury cosmetics and began rolling it out within Macy's, as well as in stand-alone locations.

On the whole, Macy's has seen its fortunes turn around somewhat in recent years, though Macy's investors were unnerved early this year when the company reported that comparable store sales at Macy's company-owned stores were up 0.7% in 2018 compared with the previous year. Including owned and licensed stores, comps were up 1.1%. Those numbers might be better than declining sales, but they are still weak in the context of the 2018 holiday season, when many retailers did much better.