Today’s sophisticated consumer understands there is fashion in everything, from evening wear to refrigerators. With the May 21 opening of its New York flagship showroom, Pirch, San Diego-based purveyors of kitchen, bath and outdoor appliances, demonstrated unequivocally that there is elegance in the household workhorses that make our everyday lives easier.
The company, founded in 2010 by Jeffery Sears and Jim Stuart, added New York to an already-impressive roster of eight existing nationwide stores, in destinations such as Dallas, Chicago and Paramus, New Jersey. Referring to the new SoHo location as a store, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Located on the highly visible corner of Broome and Lafayette Streets, the space offers a true lifestyle experience.
Totally customer-centric, Sears and Stuart are rewriting the rules as they aim to elevate retail to new heights. Even in the face of online retailing, they are providing customers with a compelling reason to return to their stores.
As customers enter the 130-year-old landmark building that once served as an iron foundry, they are greeted by a sign at the corner entry that reads, “32,000 square feet of joy. Pace yourselves.”
“When you walk into any Pirch showroom, you will quickly feel the same warmth and genuine care from the people, along with the excitement by the design of space,” says Mark Tomaszewicz, ambassador of joy, Pirch. “All guests are welcomed, just as you would greet a guest in your own home, with a warm hello, a beverage and relaxed environment.”
Fitch, the London-based design group, along with architect Arturo Vazquez, vp of store design and development at Pirch, was able to maintain the architectural integrity and historical character of the grand old building. Existing exposed brick arches and cast-iron support columns remain, recalling history and sense of place.
“The building is more than 200 years old and is one of the grand dames of the SoHo district,” explains Joanne Putka, design director, Fitch. “The biggest challenge was to allow the original architecture to breathe through while overlaying a modern interior.”
The tone is further set by the next point of customer interaction, Café Bliss, a welcoming, complimentary coffee bar. With the aroma of freshly brewed java wafting in the air, customers immediately feel that this is their store.
Pirch executives also established synergistic partnerships with manufacturers and suppliers, linking the interior design elements of the store to product offerings for their customers. Mutually beneficial relationships have been forged with vendor companies to outfit the store with finishes of the same quality of merchandise the brand presents its customers.
As for its overall aesthetic, the store is a journey of discovery. The three-level space features well-known brands such as Miele, Thermador, La Cornue, Samsung, Gessi, Bertazzoni, Rohl, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, Lynx Grills and Viking, among many others. The store’s interior is appointed with surface treatments like quartz and natural stone. In addition to an eye-catching design palette, Pirch differentiates itself by inviting customers to immerse themselves in real-world lifestyle settings with their fingers on the controls of the latest modern day conveniences.
More than 30 fully functional vignettes, strategically positioned throughout the store, invite customers to “kick the tires” on a multitude of interactive product displays. An inspirational, hands-on environment, customers are encouraged to turn on the faucets and fire up the grill in a truly try-before-you-buy experience.
“In other Pirch locations, we create this sense of discovery. In this SoHo location, the space itself dictated the journey,” says Putka. “It was as if the building was always destined to be a Pirch showroom. We just had to listen to the space.”
The store’s lower level features “Sanctuary,” an exclusive “home” spa, complete with 40 working shower heads and a private steam room. Customers can even schedule private appointments to test showers au naturale.
Full-time chefs perform cooking demonstrations on both the main level, where kitchen appliances are featured, and the upper level, home to outdoor wares. In addition, guests can don their chef’s hats and participate in free cooking classes to learn how to use the latest appliances.
Proud of its DNA, the company prominently displays its manifesto, or as they like to call it, a “periodic chart” of 23 elements that define its company culture. Messages include, “Live your life now; Live Joyfully; Be yourself. You are beautiful.”
In the words of co-founder Jim Stuart, “We’re more than an appliance retailer. At Pirch, we believe in bringing joy, romance and fun back into shopping.”
Pirch, San Diego
Design and Architecture
Last week, VMSD announced Pirch as its 2016 Peter Glen Retailer of the Year during the International Retail Design Conference, as decided in a two-stage voting process by the magazine's editorial advisory board. Stay tuned for in-depth coverage, as well as an exclusive interview with the company's CEO Jeffery Sears.