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This month, US-based outdoor retailer The North Face unveiled its new retail strategy with the opening of an 8,000 square foot store in New York. The new approach of ‘basecamps for exploration’ focuses on sustainability, community and celebrating the brand’s heritage. By the end of 2024, every North Face store will have reduced inventory to make room for educational and community-building activities, such as employee-led classes on tent-pitching, a speaker series with partner athletes, and archival pieces displaying the company’s history. 

Here’s two takeaways you can bring back to your team:

Pulling back to do more. You’ve heard it a million times: consumers are more interested in collecting experiences than more stuff. So while it may seem counterintuitive to remove products for sale from a store, the strategy of focusing on community experiences, rather than selling more goods in the short term, will ideally bring the brand’s mission and values to life and build long term relationships with customers. When your team identifies a massive shift (like the Experience Economy) are you willing to pull back from a core objective (like shifting units!), to make room for the new opportunity?

It takes a (relevant) village. As we explored in VILLAGE SQUARED, consumers now embrace innovative shared spaces and in-person experiences that promote social wellbeing. But really nailing the VILLAGE SQUARED trend is about so much more than just adding a coffee shop to your bank branch/hotel/gym/toy shop (though great coffee does help!). The North Face will be curating events and classes in its store that are not only educational and helpful for the community (don’t underestimate the power of local recommendations), but also directly relate to its business, outdoor exploration. Obvious, but not easy: can you add value to your community in a relevant way? Think about your unique expertise!

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