Lord & Taylor Flagship Becomes WeWork HQ:
What Would Grandma Think?
by Tammy Sachs, CEO & Founder
Walk down any street in NYC or visit a mall in suburbia to see miles of vacancy signs and no foot traffic. A major landlord recently told me his directions to sales staff were "Don't rent to anyone where you can buy their stuff online." What that leaves behind is a shorter and shorter list -- fast food, nail salons, pop-up Halloween stores, gelato and, of course, a Rite-Aid or bank branch. It is getting scary to think what will become of retail and retail spaces. Fortunately, a few pioneers are creating destination experiences that bring hope retail will be transformed.
One huge transformation is co-working spaces. They have become one of the biggest players in retail. The new office model includes a retail component as first impressions are made when walking in the lobby. One wonders how many co-work spaces the world needs. Similar to incubators, accelerators and other start-up communities, every bank, real estate company, agency and pharma company has created a brand identity in the name of innovation.
That said, when I read the New York Times article today about Lord & Taylor's flagship store becoming WeWork's headquarters, it gave me pause. I remembered my grandmother who was probably the last generation for whom a department store was "retail." For her it was the place to buy clothes, furniture, toys, luggage, cosmetics and have her hair done by Kenneth. I imagine her expression walking down Fifth Avenue and seeing a massive WeWork HQ with a small Lord & Taylor boutique with the same shock as if, well, Google, moved into Macy's Herald Square. Maybe for some this news comes as little surprise. For me, however, it's one more milestone in moving away from the iconic retail spaces of the past.
What do you think?