Lego bets big on real bricks with new NYC flagship
Despite massive recent growth in its ecommerce business, Lego is still betting big on bricks—real ones. The Danish toymaker will open an experiential store, the first of a new concept that was two years in the making, today in midtown Manhattan.
The 7,200-square-foot, two-story flagship will offer a blend of physical and digital elements featuring Lego's famous pieces, known as bricks, in unique ways.
“Play is changing—what was more imagination and physical play over many years is now more of a hybrid where kids will play physically but they are also existing in this fantastical digital realm,” says Simone Sweeney, VP of global retail development at Lego. “The new concept is a hybrid experience that allows us to let people get hands-on with the bricks experience, meet and engage with Lego mini-figures and still have those great play experiences, but it also integrates a lot of our digital experiences and content.”
The new store will have a dedicated Brick Lab, which uses light and sound projection, as well as touchscreen technology, to put creations customers build into a digital environment. In addition, an interactive centerpiece called the Tree of Discovery, made up of 880,000 Lego bricks, is designed to communicate specific New York elements as well as a rainbow to represent diversity and inclusion, according to Sweeney. The shop also boasts a personalization studio for customers to create mementos from their visit.
Later this year, many of the new features will be rolled out to 100 other shops in the Lego store fleet. Lego has 731 branded stores globally and plans to open 120 new spots this year. Pre-pandemic, the toymaker had a smaller store nearby in Rockefeller Center, a site which has closed. The new location is larger and on the coveted Fifth Avenue shopping strip of the tourist-heavy neighborhood.
Lego, along with other toy brands, saw sales soar as families under pandemic lockdown scrambled to find things to do at home. Revenue for Lego was up 13% in 2020 over 2019, thanks to innovative marketing tactics like the social media platform “Let’s Build Together,” meant to inspire families to build and share their creations. The number of visitors to Lego.com doubled during the year to 250 million, growth that brand executives say is continuing through 2021.
“We’re very aware that people shop in different ways and that your shopping needs today may not be the same shopping needs as next week,” says Sweeney.
Lego is not the only big-name retailer investing in a big-time retail experience. Earlier this year, Dick’s Sporting Goods opened an experiential concept store that boasts a turf field and climbing wall. Similarly, Lululemon executives have said they remain committed to such shops.