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Bloomie's facade
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First Look at Small-format Banner Bloomie’s Chicago

Bloomingdale’s debuted its second small-format concept, Bloomie’s, in early November at the Westfield Old Orchard shopping center in Chicagoland (the first location opened in Virginia in 2021). Bloomie’s experience-driven format departs from the traditional department store model by challenging the idea that bigger is better. Read on to learn how Bloomingdale’s is diversifying its store experience to win greater customer engagement and higher store productivity.

Bloomies Enters Chicagoland with Festive Programming Just in Time for the Holiday Season

Bloomie’s 51,000 square foot store – just a quarter the size of a typical Bloomingdale’s location – boasts an assortment of men’s and women’s fashion, accessories, shoes, fine jewelry, cosmetics, and housewares. Self-described as a “highly curated, ever-evolving store concept”, Bloomie’s offers a mix of the hottest products and emerging brands alongside events, customer services and in-store dining. Bloomie’s is Bloomingdale’s most recent addition to the chain’s longstanding presence in Chicagoland – Bloomingdale’s entered the Chicago market in 1988. After several store closures, the only full-sized Bloomingdale’s remains on the Magnificent Mile. In addition to its full-sized department store, Bloomingdale’s operates three outlet stores in the greater Chicagoland area.

Rotating products keep the store assortment fresh

The sunglasses display (left) and stocking stuffers display (right) showcase two of Bloomie’s current vignettes. Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

In-store dining options invite customers to linger

Café B, Bloomie’s in-house café invites shoppers and mall patrons alike inside to enjoy coffee, tea, and light fare. Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

In store programming and events invite energy and participation

The ‘Best Holiday Ever’ event took place in store on December 3, offering a variety of programming including a DJ; a sponsored giveaway with contemporary, ready-to-wear label Alice and Olivia; and personalized haikus. Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

­Hands on services cater to an omnichannel shopping experience

The store offers three, clearly marked checkpoints for customer services – services include online pickup, delivery, returns, styling, registry assistance, gift wrapping and alterations. Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

McMillanDoolittle Point of View

Like many retailers debuting a new store concept, Bloomie’s is ultimately a gamble for Bloomingdale’s.  Similarly, competitor Nordstrom’s small-format concept Nordstrom Local debuted in 2017. Nordstrom Local locations average just 3,000 square feet, a fraction of the size compared to Bloomie’s, and focus on omnichannel-enabled customer services. Comparatively, Bloomie’s offers a larger product assortment for purchase in-store, while also offering many of the same services as Nordstrom Local. Considering the risks associated with branching into small-format, Bloomingdale’s has several advantages related to its size, scale, and service offerings to set it up for success.

  • Bloomie’s taps into its corporate scale to keep its assortment fresh and current: Bloomingdale’s size and scale offers distinct benefits for Bloomie’s rotating product assortment. Bloomingdale’s parent company, Macy’s Inc., operates an expansive logistics network to support the nearly 600 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s locations combined nationwide. This economy of scale enables the continuous sourcing of top selling and emerging products, keeping the product offerings trend-forward and exciting.
  • A convenient alternative to the traditional department store: Compared to its typical 200,000 square foot store, Bloomie’s offers a bite-sized Bloomindale’s experience, catering to customers who desire to shop quickly and efficiently. The store supports an omnichannel shopping experience – The Front Desk at Bloomie’s is a clear point of contact to facilitate curbside and in-store pickup. The store also offers same day delivery. The right location is also essential to provide a convenient shopping experience – Old Orchard is a Chicagoland retail destination, placing the store near related offerings helps to attract a relevant customer base.
  • Experiential elements keep the Bloomingdale’s brand relevant: A cornerstone to the Bloomie’s experience is energizing in-store events and programming. These events invite customers to spend extended time in store and connect with the brand alongside other shoppers. Bringing customers together under the Bloomingdale’s brand umbrella creates an experience that is both accessible yet still aspirational, in keeping with Bloomingdale’s premium brand positioning. In addition to enhanced engagement, if Bloomie’s continues a regular schedule of events alongside new product launches, it will encourage more frequent visits.

A new take on Bloomingdale’s (at a favorable cost): Bloomie’s gives the Bloomingdale’s brand a brick-and-mortar presence at Old Orchard, but the reduced format decreases both capital and operating expenses compared to a full-sized Bloomingdale’s location. Smaller spaces can also be more productive – a study from highlighted a footwear retailer that opened a small-format concept – the concept, one third the size of a typical store, saw a 62% increase in visits per square foot compared to one of its full-sized stores.

Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

Bloomingdale’s isn’t alone in its expansion into smaller stores – its sister company Macy’s opened eight small-format stores under the brand Market by Macy’s. We’ve also seen small-format concepts from retailers across categories, such as Target, Meijer, and Ikea. As major retailers introduce small-format concepts, they create spaces that simultaneously foster product and brand exploration and prioritize convenience. If you’re a retailer or brand who wants to learn more about adapting your current offerings to stand out in the retail environment of present and future, contact us. Follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest retail news.

Reagan Jacobs

Reagan provides research, planning and analysis support for McMillanDoolittle retail consulting projects. She supports company and client projects through consumer research planning, merchandise and operations analysis, financial modeling and graphic design work.

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