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Neighborhood Goods, a company that's often referred to as the "department store of the future," is getting ready to grow.
The company announced on Thursday it has raised $8.8 million in additional seed financing, bringing its total to $14.5 million. It also said it will open a second location this year, in New York. Neighborhood Goods opened its first shop in Plano, Texas, late last year.
Since its inception and grand opening in Texas, Neighborhood Goods has been a buzz in the retail industry. Tennis superstar Serena Williams launched her new clothing line there. Many people keeping up with retail — and the demise of decades-old retailers like Sears and J.C. Penney — view Neighborhood Goods as a model of where the industry is headed. (Ironically, Neighborhood Good's first store is down the road from Penney's corporate headquarters.)
Co-founded in 2017 by Matt Alexander and Mark Masinter, the business aims to create large spaces where more than a dozen brands — many of them born on the internet — can sell merchandise on a rotating basis. Masinter is the founder and now a managing member of Dallas-based real estate services firm Open Realty Advisors, having helped major retailers like Apple and Restoration Hardware open stores. Alexander, also based in Dallas, founded other retail start-ups, including a fashion e-commerce company, before launching Neighborhood Goods.
Neighborhood Goods takes the basic model of a traditional department store but makes it much cooler. In Texas, the location comes with its own bar and restaurant — called Prim & Proper — and has a communal space where it holds events.
"I think the reception to Neighborhood Goods is as much a reflection of the retail market, in general, as it is an early endorsement of our particular approach," Alexander said.
"We've also witnessed a lot of excitement around ... the physical retail marketplace extending far beyond Neighborhood Goods," he said. "More and more funding is being devoted toward exploring the space, and many companies seem to be articulating the express goal of doing more with physical retail."
Neighborhood Good's Plano store is about 14,000 square feet, but Alexander has said he could envision future locations closer to 30,000. Neighborhood Goods also has a website where shoppers can buy from some of the brands it works with.
What's most impressive about Neighborhood Goods, compared with some of the other companies trying to mimic this model, are the brands it's already attracted, partnered with and started to sell in its Texas store. Among them: Walmart's direct-to-consumer mattress brand Allswell, actress Reese Witherspoon's clothing line Draper James, men's and women's wellness brands hims and hers and sneaker marketplace Stadium Goods.
"Our particular approach, which focuses on design and experience, has been attractive to a lot of those [brands]," Alexander said. "Whether brands, investors, or property developers — they've all been looking for some sort of concept that could lower the barrier to entry into retail, help fill vacant space at their developments ... [and] allow for more efficient customer acquisition opportunities."
As a wave of struggling retailers like Payless ShoeSource, Charlotte Russe and Gymboree shut stores in malls and shopping centers across the U.S., landlords and surviving retailers are looking for what's going to fill those gaps.
Alexander said that while hanging out in the Texas store, he has seen executives of major retailers checking it out. Everyone wants to know what the buzz is all about. "Everyone has been flying in," Alexander said.
Looking to the future, Neighborhood Goods is planning to open "a number of locations" across the U.S. over the next two years — in major markets like New York and in smaller suburbs similar to Plano. The company hasn't disclosed where exactly its new store will be in New York.
Neighborhood Goods' latest funding round was led by Global Founders Capital, with participation from prior investor Forerunner Ventures, along with Maveron, NextGen Venture Partners, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Ground Up Ventures, Capital Factory and Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin.
"Not only has the consumer been waiting for this retail experience, but the brands as well," said Nicole Johnson, an investor at Forerunner Ventures.
Neighborhood Goods declined to comment on its revenue stream or valuation as a private company. But Alexander said "from a valuation perspective, our post-money valuation has more than doubled with this round."