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Jennifer Marks

CB2 Opens Second NYC Store

MARTA CALLE CB2MARTA CALLE CB2
NEW YORK - CB2's new flagship store here on the Upper East Side is just the latest in the retailer's brand-building initiative, which includes the launch of international ecommerce one year ago and next year's planned opening of its first physical stores outside the United States.
     The new store, located on Third Avenue at 59th Street, is the company's 10th in the United States and second in Manhattan. Marta Calle, director of CB2, spent the first two days of the opening talking to customers about whether they previously shopped the downtown store.
     "They all said ‘no.' Our concern was cannibalization, but it turns out in New York people stay in their five-or six-block neighborhoods," she told HTT.
     Most of CB2's sales are generated online, she said, with the catalog serving as combination idea book/marketing piece. Calle described the flagship stores as "windows to the brand." The company is not intent on opening bricks-and-mortar across the country, she added.
     "Our goal is to continue retail expansion but always have ecommerce be important," said Calle. "We feel that as long as people can get a sense of the brand in these cities where they vacation or travel to that's what's important."
     She cited the Denver market. The nearest physical CB2 is in northern California, but Denver is the retailer's fourth largest market in terms of sales.
     CB2 opeartes stores in Chicago, New York, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Berkeley, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
     "Our customer has an urban attitude," said Calle. "That doesn't mean they live in an urban area. We also have a customer we call suburban modern."
     While the average customer age is 34 years-old, "we also have dougle-digits over the age of 55," she added. "When we design a product, we don't have an age in mind because we delieve our design is ageless."

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     CB2 weathered the recession of 2009 "extremely well," she said. The retailer benefited from consumers trading down. That trend continued throughout 20101 - "a phenomenal year for us."
     The pace of business this year has been tougher, she said, "but we're still having a good year compared to the competition."
     International ecommerce, launched in November 2010, is gaining ground, with the strongest sales coming from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. "We also sell very well in Japan, India and Mexico," she added.
     The brand will open its first international stores next year in Toronto and Vancouver. Expansion to other countries is also under consideration - in due time.
     The CB2 concept first stepped into brick-and-mortar 10 years ago with a pair of stores in Chicago. Calle pointed out that the company, a division of Crate & Barrel, spent four years tweaking the format before expanding into other cities.
     "You don't come up with a brand ethos overnight," she said.
     If it takes its time testing international waters, that wouldn't be out of character.

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