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Mattress start-up Casper has opened its first permanent store in the heart of downtown New York, on the outskirts of popular shopping destination SoHo.
The direct-to-consumer business, which has been selling its items in Target stores and via its own temporary shops (16 of them), joins a growing list of e-retailers deciding to invest in bricks and mortar to build brand awareness and offer shoppers the opportunity to touch and feel products. Names such as Warby Parker, Allbirds, Away, M.Gemi, Everlane and Birch Box have also established a presence in SoHo within the past year.
The opening comes as traditional mattress sellers, such as Mattress Firm, are in the midst of closing hundreds of stores.
The differences between the old and the new are plentiful. For Casper, the company has created a store prototype that aims to make the mattress shopping experience enjoyable and educational. Its cozy layout and bright colors are a far cry from traditional mattress stores that showcase endless rows of mattresses lined up in one massive, open room.
Casper CEO Philip Krim told CNBC the company's goal is to learn from the store opening, to see how shoppers react and plan from there. New York is Casper's top market, he said, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta and Chicago.
Here's a glimpse inside Casper's first store: