West Elm sees opportunity to sell local experiences outside its stores
West Elm, the home furnishings chain, has launched a program that invites customers to experiences outside the store to learn from local craftsmen about woodwork, metalwork, indigo dying and other skills.
Customers can purchase a West Elm LOCAL Experience with one of five local makers in Austin, Brooklyn, Charleston, Detroit and Savannah on WestElm.com. The sessions start at $130 and are scheduled to run in each market from April through May 2018.
The workshops include:
- Art welding lessons in a metal work studio in Austin with campfire happy hour and live music.
- A natural fiber indigo dyeing workshop session in a Brooklyn studio.
- An artist-led sketch session and hidden gems walk in historic Charleston.
- A furniture design workshop at a fire station turned studio in Detroit that includes making a tasting tray.
- A workshop in the technique of punch needle embroidery to create a hand-tufted textile composition in Savannah.
The initiative builds on the success on the five-year-old West Elm LOCAL program, which enables more than 1,000 makers, designers and artists to sell their wares at West Elm stores in their communities. A limited assortment of the “Best of LOCAL” is available on WestElm.com/LOCAL.
West Elm said the West Elm LOCAL Experience program underscores its commitment to investing in creative communities and local economies while meeting its customers’ interest in engaging experiences.
“As a retailer, we’re transforming how we’re interacting with our customers, interacting with them outside the four walls of our store,” Mo Mullen, director of West Elm Local, told USA Today. “Customers want experiences, and this is an opportunity for us to help create those experiences for them in a very authentic way.”
Most learning experiences offered by retailers — whether yoga classes at Lululemon, tech workshops at Apple or cooking classes at William Sonoma — are conducted by stores on premise and are free. REI and Cabela’s are among those offering trip packages, but they are typically exotic, remote adventures — not local.
- West Elm Launches West Elm Local Experiences, Bringing Customers Closer To The Craftsmanship Of Regional Artists – West Elm
- West Elm sells experiences to customers by sending them to other local stores – USA Today
- West Elm Wants You to Make Your Own Décor – Vogue
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of the West Elm LOCAL Experience? What does it do for West Elm? What other types of retailers might benefit from such a program?