Ad Age Next

BuzzFeed talks about new store for families at Ad Age Next

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BuzzFeed's Ben Kaufman talks about the company's retail plans at Ad Age Next.
BuzzFeed's Ben Kaufman talks about the company's retail plans at Ad Age Next. Credit: Sean T. Smith / @stsphotovideo

BuzzFeed is investing in the brick and mortar retail business, partnering with others to open an experiential store that will rotate products aimed at millennial families.

Camp is set to open Dec. 15 at 5th Avenue and 16th Street in New York, Ben Kaufman, head of BuzzFeed Commerce, said Wednesday at Ad Age's Next conference.

Taking a page from concept shop Story, the store will sell items that appeal to millennial parents and their children. The in-store experiences and products, such as toys and apparel, will change out every eight to 12 weeks, mimicking the strategy of Story, which Rachel Shechtman founded in 2011. Shechtman sits on Camp's board and is an investor.

"I rip off from everybody, that's what I do," Kaufman joked. He joined BuzzFeed two years ago after founding invention platform Quirky.

Camp's design resembles a general store with surprise and delight ideas aimed at kids, such as holes where they can reach in and pull out products and a secret doorway leading to an event space.

"Kids love adventure and we want to deliver adventure every time they come to the store," Kaufman said.

The store, set to open just in time for the final days of the holiday shopping rush, includes a cafe in collaboration with Christina Tosi's Milk Bar.

Experiential stores are typically found in big cities. Indeed, FAO Schwarz said Wednesday its new flagship will open in Manhattan this Friday, and the store will have iconic experiences like Tom Hanks' favorite giant floor piano from "Big."

Also in urban environments are annual events such as ComplexCon and Popsugar Play/Ground, where shopping is a key component of the experience. There were people camping out in Long Beach, California as early as five days before ComplexCon opened on Saturday, Nov. 3, to ensure they could buy the goods they coveted, said Jackie Williams, event director, PopSugar Play/Ground, which is a sister event to ComplexCon. Demand for the limited supply of Diamond Supply Co. x Nike SB Canary Yellow Dunk Low sneakers "was beyond," she said. Pairs are reselling for more than $2,000 online.

For Kaufman, the goal is to scale the Camp concept across the country.

There is interest in this type of model from the more traditional players in retail. Macy's, for example, acquired Story earlier this year.

"Shopping used to be more of a utility back once upon a time and now it doesn't need to be, right?" Shechtman said. "You can get something on your doorstep in a matter of hours, if not within the hour. And so I think it takes a lot more to satiate someone's appetite for real-world experience."

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