Shoppers won't find ready-to-wear designer duds on the second floor of Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship story. Instead, they'll stumble on Breathe Salt Rooms, Sundays nail studio, and a PXG golf simulator.
The high-end department store is undergoing a hefty renovation to give the Fifth Avenue store a facelift. Since some departments were being moved to different floors during the work, the second floor was going to be vacant for some time. The area will eventually be connected to the first floor by a glass elevator and be home to the beauty department and some jewelry.
But until then, Saks President Marc Metrick asked associates to get creative with the space. Thus, The Wellery was born.
"We're learning a lot," he said. "We are innovating. We are seeing what's portable, what we can take to our other stores, what we can continue with here, ... and we are doing what we want to do, which is, we are creating a connection with our consumer in a different way than retailers have ever had to do before."
Metrick said Saks is using The Wellery to learn about the new luxury: wellness.
Consumers are growing increasingly interested in eating healthy, exercising, and spending on experiences over things. It's causing traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to think differently about how they attract shoppers into stores with experiences that can't be ordered online.
It also comes at time that department stores that own valuable store locations are under pressure to better monetize their real estate holdings for shareholders. That includes Saks' parent company, Hudson's Bay Company, which has been asked to do just that by hedge fund Land & Buildings, which owns a 5 percent stake in Hudson's.
The suggestions Saks has received have ranged from closing stores to selling and converting the top floors of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship into luxury apartments.
Ideas like The Wellery could offer yet another option.