Anyone who's lived in a big city knows the struggles of finding a place to store your stuff, trying to make somewhere feel like home when you only signed a one-year lease and getting your big-ticket purchases back to your apartment without owning a car.
Lowe's is looking to make it easier.
The home improvement store is opening two Manhattan locations over the next few months, its first stores in a walkable city. To cater to the urban customer, Lowe's spent 18 months working with residents, contractors and property managers to fine-tune its assortment for the city lifestyle.
That includes such compact merchandise offerings as a fold-up broom, easy-to-move closet organization systems that don't require drilling and its first stores that offer same-day delivery.
"Everything changes when you live in a high rise or you live in a brownstone versus living out in suburbia," said Jonathan Luster, vice president of market and concept development at Lowe's. "You don't need a lot of things, but you do need other things."
Where the Manhattan stores don't take up space with lawn tractors, for example, they do provide a station for shoppers to have their plants plotted, so they can decorate their balconies.
The stores also cater to Lowe's professional customer, including a separate entrance, checkout and service desk so they can get in and out quickly. These customers can also call ahead to get curbside delivery.
And although the 30,000-square-foot stores are a fraction of the size of its typical 112,000 foot locations, they also feature high-tech screens that offer consumers additional tailored merchandise than what's able to fit in the store.
Lowe's store openings come about 10 years after Home Depot opened two locations in Manhattan. Though Home Depot's shops also offer feature an assortment that caters to the local market—for example, they carry lumber for trim work as opposed to construction lumber—they are roughly the same size as the company's other stores, at about 105,000 square feet.
Both Home Depot and Lowe's have capitalized on the improving housing market to outperform much of the retail industry in 2015 so far. But growth at Lowe's, which brought in $56.2 billion in annual sales last year, continues to trail that at the $83.2 billion Home Depot.
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According to Citi, Lowe's same-store sales performance—while robust—has lagged Home Depot's U.S. unit every reporting period since the third quarter of 2010.
Lowe's Upper West Side location will have its soft opening in a few weeks, followed by its Chelsea shop about a month later.