Huckberry’s NYC Popup Store Prepares Customers For Adventures
The recently opened space offers visitors a series of free, self-guided tours that tap into the history and regional culture of New York City
Huckberry, the online men’s lifestyle and outdoor retailer, recently opened its first physical pop-up store in New York City. Rather than just focus on selling apparel and products, the store was designed to serve as a base camp for a series of adventures.
The store is divided up to feature seven different adventures that each includes a free takeaway itinerary and products for sale that will better equip customers for the related experience.
The trips range in level of commitment from a ‘West Village Drinking Tour with Jack Kerouac’ that starts just outside the store’s door to a ’72 Hours In Iceland‘ adventure requiring a bit more advanced planning.
As is prone to happen during NYC winters, sometimes going outside isn’t pleasurable. Huckberry’s answer is a ‘Survive the Snowpocalypse’ adventure suggesting ways to stay occupied and stocked with wool blankets, slippers and the DMOS snow shovel. The Huckberry store will also host a series of events ranging from fireside chats and book signings to product demos by Huckberry ambassadors. Huckberry intends to host group outings for rock climbing in Central Park or snowmobiling in Upstate New York as an extension to the self-guided store adventures.
PSFK spoke with Huckberry co-founder Richard Greiner, who shared the back story about how the store was developed and what challenges the company has faced so far with its transition from online to physical retailing.
PSFK: How did the idea of basing the pop-up store on a series of walkaway adventure trips come about?
Richard Greiner: Our mission as a business is to inspire and equip for adventures near and far, so there’s this sense of adventure that’s the undercurrent of Huckberry. That definition of adventure can literally be something like spending 72 hours in Iceland or an escape to upstate New York for snowmobiling. But adventure is also right around the corner—it can be trying a new restaurant or buying a new book at the bookstore, or enjoying an afternoon outdoors in the park.
So adventure to us is a mindset and that’s a distinctive characteristic of Huckberry. That’s been our mission since day one. We thought, for a popup retail store, it would be really fun to bring that to life. Here in New York City, we definitely wanted to draw upon the history and local vibe of the area. That’s why we offer the drinking tour with Jack Kerouac and Friends where it starts right around the corner. You can walk out of the store and we provide some tips on places to go for drinks, what stools to sit on, and the bar where Jack got punched out in the corner. We’re hoping to bring the experience to life for people in a very real sense.
The Huckberry store is atypical from many other outdoor lifestyle retailers, which tend to use activity as an aspirational marketing tool. Here the adventures and the associated gear appear much more doable and realistic. Was that the combination you were trying to offer?
We’re all about approachability and accessibility as a company. When we started Huckberry, we thought the outdoor industry was way too focused on promoting being ‘extreme’. That didn’t feel very welcoming or approachable. We felt like we’re not going to be out climbing Mt. Everest every day, but we do love going hiking and camping and we’re avid skiers and cyclists.
On the flip side, a lot of fashion is way too high-end and high-brow for our tastes, and much of the current streetwear fashion doesn’t make sense for us in terms of function and durability. So we’re trying to offer that happy medium between fashion and outdoors—that’s really the place where we’re trying to live within as a brand.
Existing first as an online brand followed by making the leap to a physical store, what have you learned so far from that transition?
We did everything in-house. So we didn’t work with any agencies that consulted with us on this project, it was all in-house creative. To get the store set up and running was of course way more than we were expecting. It was the classic ‘everything takes twice as long and costs way more than you think.’
Beyond that, we’re starting to learn some basic retail struggles, like keeping things in stock and dealing with customer exchanges. So there’s a few customer experience issues that we’ll have to iron out, but that’s to be expected as we just get going.
The Huckberry pop-up at 383 Bleecker Street will be open for three months spanning November 2018 to January 2019.
Photos: Dave Pinter
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