Of all the cases of economic espionage charged by the DOJ's National Security Division since 2012, more than 80% of them implicated China.World Politicsread more
"Whilst there is a big dispute at the moment, I think there's also potential for resolution," UBS chairman Axel Weber says of the U.S.-China trade negotiations.World Economyread more
Cryptocurrency fans will hope the futures contracts, which are federally regulated, can provide some much-needed legitimacy to bitcoin.Cryptocurrencyread more
Despite mixed fan and critic reactions to the final season of "Game of Thrones," the eight-season epic took home the top prize in the drama category at the Emmy Awards on...Entertainmentread more
There are alternative financial centers and investors can turn to Singapore, Tokyo or Shanghai if Hong Kong doesn't "shape up," says the founder and chairman of Citic Capital.Asia Economyread more
The Kingdom and oil and gas industry have been slow to shore up defenses, raising red flags about the possibility of longer term fall-out in the region.Technologyread more
Tensions between South Korea and Japan may ultimately disrupt the high-end tech sectors, says Heenam Choi, CEO at South Korea's sovereign wealth fund.Traderead more
On Sunday, the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards honored the best comedies, dramas, limited and variety series from the last year.Entertainmentread more
U.S. President Donald Trump's national security advisor said on Sunday that White House Asia policy adviser Matt Pottinger would become his top deputy.Politicsread more
Removing Neumann is a difficult decision for Son, who has long believed in WeWork and Neumann's vision to quickly expand the company.Technologyread more
Datadog went public on Thursday and instantly hit a $10 billion valuation, becoming the fourth cloud software debut to reach that level this year.Technologyread more
Unwind in a steam room. Sip on a fancy latte. Chow down a freshly cooked breakfast, and spend the afternoon drinking cold beer straight from the tap.
While these activities have all the makings of a vacation at a high-end resort, there's another way to experience them without dropping hundreds of dollars on a luxury suite: Spend a day at the mall.
Pirch, a California-based retailer with eight locations across the U.S., is looking to reinvent the way consumers shop for home appliances.
Its strategy is two-fold: First, let shoppers test the products in its stores, whether it's turning the dials on a kitchen stove or standing under a showerhead; second, put the customer first by greeting them with a fresh coffee and serving them with complimentary food or snacks while they browse or complete a sale.
The company is off to a good start. According to CEO Jeffery Sears, shoppers spend an average of two hours and 11 minutes in the retailer's stores.
But they're not just browsing. Some of Pirch's shops are posting sales greater than $3,000 per square foot, an honor that, according to eMarketer, is only surpassed by small-format Tiffany and Apple shops, as well as convenience store chain Murphy USA.
"We know that when people walk through the space they're just stunned and they start to dream," Sears said. "Water runs, the chefs are cooking and people are learning. Pretty soon you just simply say, 'My house sucks.'"
Conceived in 2009 by Sears and co-founder James Stuart, Pirch's stores—located in high-end malls or as standalone shops in luxury areas—certainly play on the dreamers.
At its Paramus, New Jersey, store, which opened in March, shoppers can purchase a $12,000 shower head, a $15,000 grill or a $25,000 stone bathtub. The products are showcased in real-to-life vignettes, including fully furnished kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor patio areas.
Despite this showmanship and the stores' luxury feel, Pirch carries more than 1 million items on the plumbing side alone, which makes room for more reasonable entry prices for moderate-income shoppers. The retailer also keeps its prices steady with the manufacturer's suggested price, so consumers have "no reason to buy from anyone else," Sears said.
"If you want to [make] a great pizza we can get you there for 89 bucks, or you can go pro," he said.
Robin Lewis, CEO of The Robin Report retail strategy newsletter, said Pirch represents what he believes to be the future of retailing. Similar to Lululemon, Apple or Cabela's stores, the brand's shops include what Lewis called a "neurologically addictive experience."
Not only can shoppers reserve Pirch's "Sanctuary" room—which includes more than a dozen shower heads, a steam room and a sauna—but whenever the store is open, a chef is always cooking, sending the aroma of bacon or other savory treats through the air.
Shoppers can also sign up for cooking classes, which are held at the store each Saturday. In Paramus, these sessions are already booked three months out.
"Experiences period … are what it's going to take in the future for brick-and-mortar guys to survive," Lewis said.
"I think our competition is really Lexus, BMW, Mercedes … three weeks in Africa, a diamond ring," he said. "Yes there's people in our space, but we don't believe we're in the same business that they're in."
Through its interactive stores and events, Pirch has built its reputation mostly by word of mouth. The majority of its advertising budget is instead spent on serving shoppers a fresh cup of coffee when they enter the stores, and to pay the chefs' salaries. But there is one category where the retailer lags its competitors: the Web.
Sears admits that the weakest part of the company's business is that it doesn't have a digital strategy.
"People like the website because it's pretty and it feels good, but it doesn't really do anything," he said.
The firm recently completed its digital brief and is working with the "top agencies in the world" on a new shoppable site, to launch in March.
Pirch isn't the first home store to focus on the luxury market, though it's hoping for a better outcome. In 2009, Home Depot shuttered its higher-end Expo business, which sold kitchen and bathroom cabinets, flooring, appliances, window treatments and lighting fixtures.
At the time, Home Depot said the business, whose stores averaged approximately 100,000 square feet, "has not performed well financially and is not expected to anytime soon."
By contrast, Lewis said, Pirch is focused on only two home areas—kitchen and bath—to offer a more in-depth experience for shoppers. It does not sell countertops or cabinetry, and its stores are roughly a third the size of Home Depot's Expo locations.
"Expo was just too much and overwhelming for consumers," Lewis said.
Although its stores are significantly smaller, another of Pirch's challenges is finding space large enough to accommodate its footprint in high-end malls. Its Paramus location, for instance, was opened as part of a 77,000-square-foot add-on to the Westfield mall. Its NorthPark Center site, in Dallas, took over what was formerly the second floor of Barneys department store.
Pirch, which plans to roll out three locations a year, is not limiting itself to malls. In 2016, it will open a three-level, 32,000-square-foot store in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, in a vacant space that once served as a metal foundry.
That store will cater to professional customers—who currently account for about 70 percent of the company's sales (though Sears said that is quickly changing)—as well as people who own condos in the city or beach houses in the Hamptons.
As such, its vignettes will feature a "massive" kitchen suitable for a seaside mansion, as well as a 800-square-foot apartment at the top of one of the stairwells. Also coming in 2016 are stores in Austin, Texas, and Minneapolis.
Although Sears would not disclose whether its stores are profitable, he did say that because Pirch serves as an anchor tenant, it reaps some of the same benefits. Anchor stores are typically given a break on their rent, as they are seen as a key traffic driver to the mall.
For Lewis, part of Pirch's appeal is its ability to drive not only traffic, but repeat visitors to its stores.
"[Consumers] become addicted," he said. "The experience is new, different and unique every time."