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Macy’s Has a New Story to Tell, and One the Consumer Can Experience

The narrative-driven retail concept shop Story has opened in 36 Macy’s stores nationwide.

The new shops, which average 1,500-square-feet in size, have “Color” as the inaugural theme—tapping right into the hue-hungry Instagram era. The shops will be available to peruse through June 26, with a range of more than 300 color-inspired events on the calendar.

The plan is to have themes change every few months, with new concepts incorporating narrative-driven merchandise and unique collaborations. The current “Colors” themed experience includes MAC Cosmetics’s “Make Your Own” palette stations at 30 select Story locations and, in keeping with the idea of self-expression and creativity, hands-on workshops from Crayola, including crafting videos for participants to explore ways to express themselves. There’s also a special feature for kids where they can create custom patches using melted Crayola crayons for their Levi’s Kid’s denim jackets.

Macy’s will have an exclusive Levi’s x Crayola collaboration available for the back-to-school selling season that begins in mid-June at select stores nationwide. A capsule group of items are available now at the Story concept shops.

Sam Haddad, principal at Haddad Brands, which manufactures and sells the collection, said, “We have a successful history with Macy’s and, when we heard that Story was launching, we knew it was the right channel to build buzz around our future collaboration.”

The Story shops are in stores across 15 states. Designer David Stark structured the layout as a colorful circus, complete with faux fur columns and an interactive light experience that incorporates an illuminated rainbow tunnel that’s prime for selfies. The Herald Square shop, because it represents Macy’s flagship, features an expanded range of independent brands. The brands unique to Herald Square include Brooklyn-based handbag customization kit “I Made That Bag,” Fun Socks and colorful glasses from Izipizi.

Story is structured so consumers can “explore over 70 small business brands and hundreds of products,” Macy’s said. Many of the small businesses are new to the retailer, with brands including non-toxic nail polish by Tenoverten, rock and roll vinyl clutches by indie costume designer Julie Mollo, “super-charged soaps” from Barr-co, and the ability to shop a wide range of merchandise from Xoopar’s color-changing speaker to even cotton candy.

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“The discovery-led, narrative experience of Story gives new customers a fresh reason to visit our stores and gives the current Macy’s customer even more reason to come back again and again throughout the year,” Jeff Gannette, Macy’s Inc. chairman and chief executive officer, said.

Macy’s acquired Story in May 2018. Story founder Rachel Shechtman joined the department store as brand experience officer with a goal of focusing on how to enhance the in-store customer experience at Macy’s. The idea was to bring in the Story concept, but in a new iteration.

Shechtman founded Story with the idea of using a retail model that tells a story much like a magazine. A key feature of the concept is based on a new design and merchandise mix that changes every six to eight weeks. The original 2,000-square-foot Story location in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood at 19th Street and 10th Ave. was opened in 2011. Macy’s has since elected to shutter that location.

Macy’s said more than 270 new employees were hired for the Story shops. The new staff members, now Story managers and “Storytellers,” participated in Macy’s “Know + Tell” experiential training program. The program is an immersive type of training experience where they learn everything from building fixtures to customer engagement and event production.

“The Story at Macy’s experience feels a lot like a real life version of scrolling through Instagram,” Schechtman said. “You discover things you weren’t looking for, but are inspired by all the fun finds.”

The simultaneous launch of Story across 15 states, Schechtman said, is the result of a “reimagined approach to cross-functional collaboration and the work of more than 300 Macy’s colleagues who contributed to creating this new, scalable business model nationwide.”

Some of the Macy’s locations that will include Story are: in California, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and Newport Fashion Island in Newport Beach; in Florida the Boca Raton Town Center in Boca Raton; in Nevada at the Las Vegas Fashion Show in Las Vegas; in New Jersey at Short Hills Mall in Short Hills and Willowbrook Mall in Wayne; in New York at Herald Square, as well as Roosevelt Field on Long Island, and in Texas at Northpark Center in Dallas and the Houston Galleria in Houston.