Known for their exclusive velvet ropes and long lines pre-pandemic, Glossier’s physical stores are making their comeback with an even bigger focus on experiential retail than before.
On November 18, Glossier officially opened its new Los Angeles physical store, following an August opening in Seattle as its second retail location to open since it shuttered all stores in 2020. While the brand is still prioritizing DTC e-commerce for sales, the photogenic new spaces are geared toward social content, brand awareness and community building.
“Retail has always had a unique and important role to play at Glossier. As a digital-first company, our team has had the freedom to experiment with retail in a way that companies that are so closely tied to brick and mortar don’t,” said Kristy Maynes, Glossier’s SVP of retail via email.
With an aesthetic primed for social media photos, the new Los Angeles store concept takes localization into account with Hollywood studio-inspired design. Created by the brand’s in-house creative team, the store features Hollywood sign-style lettering, a 17-foot Boy Brow tube (which Maynes describes as “TikTok and Instagram-ready”), and an amphitheater-style seating area. With separate rooms for skin care and makeup, the store’s lighting and mirrors are optimized for selfies.
“Glossier stores aren’t designed to facilitate transaction,” said Maynes. Instead, the brand’s goal is to offer “a new kind of beauty experience” focused on discovery and community.
But that doesn’t mean this didn’t generate sales. In 2019, Glossier’s retail locations had an average conversion rate of 50% at its permanent stores and 60% at its pop-ups, according to the brand. Stores accounted for 20% of the brand’s sales pre-pandemic and had over 1 million visitors annually.
To encourage foot traffic to the new location, the brand offered a Lyft credit code for $25 to the first 600 visitors. It’s also selling LA-exclusive cellphone-style keychains and stickers at the new location, and featured them in an Instagram giveaway to celebrate the opening.
Located on Melrose Avenue, the new store is near Glossier’s old Melrose Place location that was permanently closed along with the brand’s other locations in August 2020. The other two were its pop-up in London, which will get a new permanent Glossier flagship store in December, and New York, which will have a new store in 2022. The Seattle permanent opening follows a 2019 pop-up in the city.
Prior to the opening of its first store since the shutterings, Glossier announced in June a new set of HR policies for retail employees following an August 2020 public letter by laid-off employees sharing a list of grievances about working conditions, including a lack of clarity on how to handle racist and harassing customers. The new policies listed include a code of conduct for customers, revamped training and increased pay and benefits.
In line with the rise of outdoor events during the pandemic, the new store has an outdoor space called “Glossier Alley” that is meant to act as a community hub and setting for social media photos with topiaries and a surrealist marble fountain designed by LA artists the Haas Brothers. Like many new premium retail spaces, the outdoor area also offers a cafe with coffee and pastries from chic partners Alfred and Farmhouse.
For the brand, the communal gathering spaces are as important as the aesthetic, and it plans to use the area for events.
“The pandemic has changed the mandate for retail, and it’s not as simple as creating ‘Instagramable’ spaces — it’s about building experiences that make people feel things, foster community and connection, and that live in harmony with the digital world,” said Maynes.
According to Maynes, there are “several more stores in the pipeline,” both in the U.S. and internationally, with more details to come.