June 2022 - Sachse Construction

Detroit Businesses Folk and Caffeehaus Collaborate on Somerset Collection Store

Books + Folk, a collaboration between the Folk market in Detroit’s historic Corktown, the local coffee consultant and roastery Caffeehaus, and Assouline books, will host its grand opening today in the Somerset Collection South on the second floor near the skywalk.

Books + Folk offers an array of coffee, teas, pastries, and grab-and-go sandwiches and salads. There is also a selection of best sellers and gorgeous coffee table books available from Assouline, a luxury publisher in the fashion, design, travel, and lifestyle spaces.

In addition to Folk, Luke Kirtley, owner of Coffeehaus, has been engaged to support the design, training, and product curation for the shop. Micky Mardirosian, who for over 30 years has owned cafés and shops in downtown Detroit, manages the operation.

Every purchase at Books + Folk runs through The Detroit Shoppe, the philanthropic arm of The Somerset Collection that celebrates and supports the people, places, and products of Detroit, with 100 percent of proceeds benefitting charity.

As part of the grand opening, Somerset Collection has also commissioned Detroit artist Mike Han to live-paint an original eight-by-twelve-foot mural titled “Together we Rise” at the entrance of the store.

Hahn is a Korean-Detroit artist and designer whose creative practice has been cultivated by exploring the unresolved tension between graffiti and architecture, creation and destruction, and his identity as a first generation American born with Korean heritage.

The Somerset Collection is located on the corner of Big Beaver Road and Coolidge in Troy.  A 700-foot-long glass enclosed moving skywalk spans Big Beaver connecting Somerset North with Somerset South. Anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy’s, the Somerset Collection is home to more than 180 stores and restaurants.

Lego to open first US factory

Dive Brief:

  • Lego Group on Wednesday announced that the company will invest over $1 billion to open a factory in Chesterfield County, Virginia, according to a company press release.
  • Construction will launch in the fall of this year, with a projected start date for production in the second half of 2025. The 1.7 million-square-foot facility will operate as carbon neutral.
  • The factory, which is the company’s seventh, will create over 1,700 jobs. While construction is underway, a temporary packaging site will open in 2024 that will employ up to 500 people.

Dive Insight:

Lego is getting ready to break ground on its first factory in the U.S.

The company has a facility in Monterrey, Mexico, which currently supplies the U.S. market. But, the upcoming facility in Virginia will help support the company’s long-term growth plans in the Americas.

“Our factories are located close to our biggest markets which shortens the distance our products have to travel,” Carsten Rasmussen, Lego Group’s chief operations officer, said in a statement. “This allows us to rapidly respond to changing consumer demand and helps manage our carbon footprint.”

Indeed, the brand’s supply chain strategy helped it particularly during the height of the pandemic. While much of the retail industry was beleaguered by delays and delivery disruptions, Lego’s strategy of building factories in key areas resulted in a shorter supply chain.

Lego does “a better job of nearshoring their production to the market where it’s going to go,” James Zahn, deputy editor of “The Toy Book,” said in an interview with Retail Dive this spring. “They’re not being transported to the other side of the world. Lego has a better supply chain, just in general,” he said.

The new facility will emphasize carbon neutrality and will be designed to minimize energy consumption and the use of non-renewable resources. All of its daily energy needs will be matched by renewable energy through an on-site solar park.

Lego Group also announced an expansion of its factories in Europe and China. Besides Mexico, the company also has factories in Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, China, and Vietnam.

Amazon Style’s Digitally Powered Brick-and-Mortar Experience Blends Human Touch With AI Sales Support

Before the May 25, 2022 grand opening of Amazon Style — the retailer’s initial venture into fashion brick-and-mortar retail — some thought the Los Angeles space at the Americana at Brand would be dominated by technology and devoid of human interaction. But on the contrary, while there are plenty of digital tools based on AI-powered algorithms that help customers shop the store, these features support hundreds of associates who contribute to the omnichannel experience.

By adapting its AI machine learning techniques to a brick-and-mortar space, Amazon is doing more than just providing the goods customers want. The retailer also is using technology that could increase per-visit profit margins by presenting cross-sell and upsell options of additional products that guests didn’t know they wanted (but are relevant to their preferences). The technology also persists beyond the in-store shopping trip, affording shoppers online access to items they scanned during their visit, thereby allowing guests to continue shopping the store at home.

Amazon Style plans to open a second brick-and-mortar location later in 2022 at the Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Enhancing Physical Retail with Digital Tools

Upon entering the bright, airy space, which features colorful social media-ready areas and fashion-focused installations, customers are greeted by a sign featuring a QR code that they can scan to begin the shopping experience. A group of human greeters are available to help with technology troubleshooting, answer questions or simply discuss fashion with guests.

Prompts by the Amazon Shopping app request customer information such as the sizes they most often wear, body type and the styles they wish to shop from Amazon’s in-house brands, such as the carbon neutral Amazon Aware and other labels including Allegra KChampionCKCRZ YogaGood ManJoieLevi’sSteve MaddenTommy Hilfiger and Vince. Associates are also tasked with checking on customers as they shop the floor, but this assistance is afforded at a balance that is helpful — not overwhelming — to shoppers.

Within the customer-facing area of the approximately 30,000-square-foot space, shoppers will find only one piece for each item, except for a few displays showcasing jewelry and beauty items near checkout points to promote impulse purchases. Beyond the sales floor, Amazon Style’s stock area holds every size and color option for each item until a customer requests it. By scanning the piece’s QR code and then choosing a size and color, shoppers don’t have to browse racks of clothing to find their preferred pieces. Scanning the product QR codes also allows shoppers to read reviews of items before sending a request to stockroom employees, who deliver it either to the pickup counter or a fitting room.

Throughout the store, shoppers also can find physical installations with outfit recommendations organized by influencers. Named Lookbook, this merchandising method brings to life recommendations in the physical world that are complemented by digital suggestions shoppers can find on their phones as they shop.

Fitting Digital into Physical Fashion Retail

Customers who want to try on items start by entering a virtual queue, alerting back-of-house employees to select the scanned items and place them in a fitting room. Once a room is ready, the Amazon Shopping app notifies the customer, who has the option to snooze the alert and continue shopping until the guest is ready to try on items. When the shopper goes to the fitting room area, she or he gives a waiting associate the assigned room number and is greeted by name before being directed to the space, which is unlocked via a phone prompt.

All requested items are neatly arranged within a closet inside the space, in addition to items suggested by the machine learning algorithms used by Amazon Style. Using the touchscreen mounted to the fitting room wall, a customer may request additional sizes, colors and styles, or shop style recommendations generated by the feedback entered on the device.

These items are delivered to the fitting room via a secure closet door accessed from behind the space, while the door from the fitting room to the closet remains locked. A red light on the closet door inside the fitting room illuminates as employees stock the closet, and goes off once the items are in place. A notification displayed on the touchscreen shows that items have arrived, while the frame of the closet door illuminates in white light. Store associates in the area remain on hand to check on shoppers.

Expanding Checkout Options Beyond In-Store Shopping

At the checkout counter, payments may be processed via Amazon One, the company’s contactless, hover-enacted palm-identification technology. Customers may also pay using an existing credit card that is connected to an Amazon account by scanning the In-Store Code within the Amazon Shopping app. Shoppers who prefer traditional payment methods may choose credit or debit cards, cash or Amazon gift cards.

Customers who have purchased items online prior to their store visits can pick up their purchases at the Amazon Style pickup lounge and try them on before leaving. If customers change their minds after trying on items, Amazon Style will process it as a return.

Amazon Style continues its connection with shoppers even after they leave the physical premises. All items scanned by customers during an Amazon Style visit are saved within the Amazon Shopping app, allowing customers to potentially buy them online at a later date. At home, shoppers can also explore more items from brands they liked and scanned in the store.

Kohl’s to Launch 100 Small Format Stores in Untapped Markets

In a bid to get closer to customers and enter new neighborhoods, Kohl’s said Wednesday (May 25) that it was launching a sweeping store investment program that will see the addition of 100 new small-format locations over the next four years.

The announcement coincides with the retailer’s Investor Day meetings and marks the latest effort by the embattled operator of 1,100 stores to reinvigorate sales and move beyond a bruising two-year effort to oust the current board and shake up company operations.

“The average Kohl’s store of around 80,000 square feet is too large for many small markets,” the company’s presentation said, noting that the roll out of the new 35,000 square foot locations follows the successful pilot of 20 small format locations.

By shrinking its footprint, the Wisconsin-based department store chain said it gains flexibility needed to enter new neighborhoods but also be able to provide a “hyper-localized experience” that reflects each community’s particular needs, such as an over-allotment of outdoor gear in markets like Tacoma, Washington.

“Our strong and productive off-mall store base can continuously evolve with our customer’s expectations and demand,” Kohl’s Chief Property Officer Mark Griepentrog told analysts. “We see substantial opportunities to leverage our real estate in producing long-term growth,” he added.

The Sephora Connection

As the company begins to ramp-up its half-sized locations, its existing and expanding partnership with French makeup giant Sephora will continue to be at the center of both its traditional stores and new small format locations.

“The transformation underway in our stores, with our partnership with Sephora as a cornerstone, is driving impressive results,” CEO Michelle Gass said on the company’s earnings call last week.

“It is again important to note that while the build out of the Sephora shop-in-shops is at the core of the store remodels, these 200 stores — soon to be 600 by the end of summer — are a representation of the future of Kohl’s,” Gass told analysts.

The Shrinking Store Trend

To be sure, Kohl’s is not the first mass retailer to pursue new customers and markets via the addition of small format stores. For example, “mini Macy’s” have been popping up as part of a similar neighbor store expansion plan for more than a year, while the addition of so-called “tiny Targets” have been the predominant driver of new locations by the Minnesota-based retail chain.

At the same time, Kohl’s store makeover plans are also aimed at improving other logistical aspects that will improve convenience, including redesigned in-store pick up, drive-up, self-pick up, and Amazon returns, the company said.

“Kohl’s has a healthy and productive store base that can evolve with customer expectations and demand,” the retailer’s Investor Day presentation stated, pointing to other upcoming initiatives such as the debut of self-service BOPUS in all stores in 2022, as well as a planned pilot of self-serve returns and self-serve checkout in over 100 stores.

After benefitting from reported buyout bids and other reorganizational prodding from activist investors, Kohl’s investors approved the re-election of the full slate of existing board members in what was seen as a rebuke to outside intervention.

While Gass has said the company is still awaiting firm and final offers and will evaluate their merit, she has repeatedly stressed that the retailer’s existing strategy offered the best long-term value to shareholders, even though Kohl’s stock has fallen over 30% in the past two months.

Detroit’s West Riverfront Park closing for 2 years starting Wednesday for reconstruction

(WXYZ) — Detroit’s West Riverfront Park will close for the next two years on Wednesday for reconstruction to become the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park.

The park is expected to open under the new name and massive reconstruction in the fall of 2024.

In May, officials from the city of Detroit and around the state broke ground on the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park along Detroit’s West Riverfront.

The 22-acre park is expected to transform the riverfront into a world-class public space and is a $75 million investment in the community.

It’s named after the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., an entrepreneur, veteran and philanthropist from the City of Detroit.

His widow, Mary Wilson told 7 Action News, “Obviously, I wish Ralph were here. I wish his father were here. He grew up here. He loved it here.”

“He was very successful. He worked really hard and to have something that’s so impactful with his name on it it is truly beyond belief,” she added.

The park is expected to feature a water garden, the William Davidson Sport House, the Delta Dental Play Garden and the DTE Foundation Hill.

According to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the sport house will include a raised canopy and skylight in a multi-use flexible space for different programs and events.

“Great public spaces are at the heart of any great city,” said Darin McKeever, president & CEO of the William Davidson Foundation. “Ralph Wilson Park will be a thriving, wonderful place where generations of Detroiters and visitors can gather, play, exercise, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors alongside Detroit’s incredible waterfront. We are thrilled to partner with the community in this exciting effort.”

The play garden will be four acres and feature a 20-foot bear play structure and other animal-related features including otters, beavers and more.

“The Delta Dental Play Garden will be a safe, fun and educational space for the children and families of Detroit and southeastern Michigan,” said Goran Jurkovic, president & CEO of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. “Beyond fun and exciting, we fully expect the West Riverfront projects to drive economic development and energy just like the Riverwalk has done on the east.”

Plus, the Foundation Hill will be an expansive lawn for special events.

New York-based landscape architect firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates will design the park. Other designs they have done include the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City and Maggie Daley Park in Chicago.

Mayor Mike Duggan told 7 Action News, “The Detroit I grew up in we didn’t know we have a Riverfront. It was cement silos and abandoned industrial spaces, and really in a space of 10 or 15 years you now can go from Belle Isle Bridge to the Ambassador Bridge and have full use of the waterfront.”

The park is expected to be complete in 2024.

This Exhibition Shows What Makes Hermès, Hermès

Edouard Ambelouis, an Hermès leatherworker, stands squinting at a tiny seam along the top handle of the leather handbag occupying his work station. He then re-stitches it with a precision gained from 16 years spent returning worn and well-loved pieces to their just-purchased glory. On most days, Ambelouis restores Hermès leather goods from the seclusion of a private workshop. Today, he and his fellow artisans are pulling back the curtain for me and other visitors to the latest Hermès exhibition.

“Hermès in the Making,” a traveling experience currently open in the Detroit suburb Troy, is the closest one can get to the 52 Hermès workshops scattered across France without actually setting foot inside one of them. Four interactive sections highlight the generations of artisans behind every silk scarf and Kelly bag, allowing clients old and new to see what makes Hermès, Hermès, up close. It’s a limited engagement that runs through June 15, with a rarity mirroring the house’s own legendary pieces. The exhibition will travel to Austin in October, and also make stops in Kyoto and Singapore later this year.

Taking up one cavernous space, the show includes winding open-concept displays along a pathway resembling a workbench, decked out in Hermès’s brightest pigments. In addition to broadcast snippets of Footsteps Across the World, a series produced by documentary filmmaker Frédéric Laffont, and sculptural displays of Hermès’s most iconic products, scheduled demonstrations take visitors inside the construction of saddles, timepieces, and more. (And for little ones, there’s the world’s chicest coloring station with paper prints of Hermès scarves.)

“Time” defines a section spotlighting watches and repair work, but the theme is threaded throughout the placards, videos, and glass-encased Birkins throughout the installation. More than once, copy in the exhibition tells you that Hermès respects time and treats it as an ally. This approach comes to life in the cutting and measuring of lambskin for a perfectly fitting glove; in a lineup of porcelain plates in various stages of completion, each decorated in gentle brushstrokes; in the length of the tenures on-site demonstrators have spent working at Hermès itself. In an era when most of fashion wants to hit the accelerator to its own detriment, some commotion for taking it slow feels borderline revolutionary.

Visitors can interact with “Hermès in the Making” at their own pace, but the patient route is the one most aligned with the Hermès pace of craftsmanship—and more than worth the time.

Take a section of “Hermès in the Making” dedicated to the art of silk printing. For an hour, I am hypnotized by an artisan painstakingly pouring and spreading dye onto mesh frames to illustrate an Hermès silk scarf, layer by layer. The end result is worth the wait (and the standing): a vibrant printed silk scarf, transformed from what had been a bare white canvas 60 minutes before.

Before I take a second lap around the exhibition—some things deserve an extra glance—Ambelouis tells me about one of his most memorable projects. An Hermès client had somewhat recently brought a bag in need of touch-ups to the Manhattan workshop: production year, 1920. It was a true heirloom, used and handed down through just more than a century. With careful attention and all the technical expertise from years of training, he tells me, it was restored to be passed down once again.

There’s a magic to taking things slowly and deliberately. This is the essence of Hermès, now on display.

The last free-standing synagogue in Detroit is growing fast — and set for a $5 million renovation

When Jay Hack and his wife moved to a long-blighted but fast-revitalizing section of Detroit 10 years ago, they joined the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. It’s the last freestanding shul in the city, and happens to be named for his great-great-grandfather.

The building, with its two bold rows of brightly colored glass windows, both charmed and repelled them.

“The first services we went to, I brought my oldest son and he was literally crawling on the floor and we had to guide him away from broken glass,” said Hack, a 45-year-old financial planner who grew up in the Detroit suburbs.

But now Hack and the growing congregation are weeks away from the start of a $5 million renovation of Isaac Agree, necessitated by a sharp recent influx of young Jewish residents and their growing families. Construction is set to begin in early June on the synagogue, which was once one of at least 40 in Detroit before a mass midcentury exodus to the suburbs doomed them.

The plan is to transform it from a decrepit structure into a gleaming, modern hub of Jewish life in southeastern Michigan — a stunning turnaround for a 100-year-old congregation too small to afford a rabbi or staff just a few years ago. It’s a rare but not unheard of renaissance for an urban synagogue; in Washington, D.C., one sold to a church midcentury became part of the center city’s renewal in 2004 when it was rededicated as the 6th & I Historic Synagogue.

After the work is completed, several major Jewish groups in the metro Detroit region are expected to rent workspace in the building as they re-establish themselves in the city after decades in the suburbs. They’ll be joining a reverse migration that has transformed much of Detroit. Around Isaac Agree in the past 10 years, scores of companies have located or relocated tens of thousands of finance and tech jobs to the city. Simultaneously, developers have renovated or converted dozens of apartment buildings for the growing workforce of  young professionals.

“I like to call us a 100-year-old startup,” said Rabbi Ariana Silverman, who was hired in 2016. “In many ways, we’re both a synagogue that’s been around for 100 years and we’re an organization that’s growing incredibly quickly and trying to do new and bold things at the same time.”

Back to the Future

The ambitious construction plan includes a remodeled sanctuary; a refurbished social hall and catering area; office space on the third and fourth floors which are currently condemned and unusable; and a rooftop space for weddings and other events. The refurbishment will accommodate a congregation that grew from fewer than 100 households a decade ago to more than 400 now, and from just 10 children under 18 to more than 100. While Silverman has only hosted two b’nai mitzvah so far in her six-year tenure, the temple’s new religious school already has 10 enrollees.

“Many congregations are struggling to get people in their 20s and 30s to be involved and certainly to join, and that actually is one of our primary demographics, which is kind of cool,” Silverman said. “The appeal is building a space that’s going to engage the next generations of Jews.”

The project was expected to cost the $4.5 million raised in a capital campaign that launched in 2020, but Silverman said the cost has spiraled to about $5.9 million thanks to the recent spike in inflation and the construction industry’s supply chain issues.

They’re turning back to their larger donors – Michigan-based Jewish-oriented groups including  William Davidson Foundation, the Gilbert Family Foundation, the Fisher Foundation, and the Kahn Foundation — to ask for larger gifts, but for the moment the construction has been pared back somewhat — no rooftop space or fourth-floor offices, for instance — as the work is scheduled to begin on June 7. It’s due to be completed in January.

“We’ll do the floors and walls of the fourth floor and have the elevator go to the roof so that the full vision can be realized at some point,” Silverman said.

Rise and demise

Isaac Agree was founded in December 1921 by Nathan and Charles Agree, the namesake’s sons, as a nonprofit family charitable association in honor of their patriarch, a Russian émigré who came to Detroit in 1904. The association endowed an Orthodox religious school that grew into a synagogue in the city’s North End and moved in 1937 to a rented building in the Downtown business district. In 1964, the shul purchased its current location, a former men’s clothing store.

Back then, the shul — the only one Downtown — served as a place for observant Jews to pray on their way to or from work. “It’s always been a convenient-oriented synagogue for businessmen or whatever to come say Kaddish,” said Hack, a board member.

Metaverse shopping: Retailers’ new reality

For many consumers, the metaverse is a vaguely futuristic concept, perhaps just now catching their attention. Retailers, however, can’t afford to be that relaxed about the metaverse. It is speeding our way and by the time the holiday shopping season rolls around, this new world will actually be here. Retailers need to know that laggards may not fare well in 2022 — and realize that the time to prepare for a virtual future is now.

Successful brands have a vibrant presence not only in the physical world, but also online, on mobile devices and on social media. The metaverse is simply the next extension of that presence. By embracing virtual reality, retailers can enable customers to interact with their brand in a unique immersive environment that tells a brand’s story and sets it apart. Richly detailed, interactive 3D spaces encourage shoppers to linger longer than conventional websites or mobile apps ever have.

Imagine the impact that exciting virtual spaces can have on holiday shoppers and it’s easy to see why online sales — along with customer engagement and brand loyalty — are bound to raise the bar during the year’s hottest shopping season.

Fashionably early

The fashion industry has been among the first to stake a claim in the metaverse; luxury brands in particular invite shoppers to explore and play in innovative virtual spaces:

  • Gucci has promoted a virtual handbag on the popular and well-established gaming platform Roblox and sold it for $4,100, way above its physical price tag.
  • Louis Vuitton created a virtual game to celebrate the founder’s 200th birthday, packed with trivia challenges, prizes and surprises meant to draw young customers.
  • Dior Beauty created its own holiday virtual store, highlighting gift options and limited edition products in its Atelier of Dreams.

“Marketers, store designers, merchandisers and more will have to begin thinking very differently about what a ‘store’ is,” Maghan McDowell writes in Vogue Business. “In a world where any experience is possible, why on earth would we use our industrial era version of retail as a template for the future?” Virtual stores offer the possibility of “a third mode of shopping that resembles neither stores nor websites,” she notes, but rather combines “the best of both the physical and virtual worlds.”

Data matters

The metaverse is young, but data analysis offers a good indication of where it’s going. Calling it “the next big technology platform,” Bloomberg reports that the metaverse market is on track to approach $800 billion in 2024. That represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 13%, compared to a market of less than $500 billion in 2020.

At the moment, gaming hardware, software, services and in-game ad revenues are the primary revenue generators in the metaverse, projected to reach $413 billion in 2024, up from $275 billion in 2020. But online game makers that seize the opportunity to create virtual worlds within their games (remember Gucci and Louis Vuitton) could earn an even greater share of future gaming sales. In total, the metaverse market is expected to exceed the current gaming market by nearly three times.

And looking ten years ahead, a February 2022 Credit Suisse report predicts that “even modest metaverse usage” could drive the CAGR for internet traffic an additional 37% over the current 30% rate — multiplying current data usage 20 times over.

At the user level, consumers have been found to spend more than 14 minutes, immersed in 3D virtual shopping experiences, in contrast to less than two minutes on static 2D ecommerce sites. That boost in customer engagement translates to a 70% increase in conversion rates — and retailers offering a virtual shopping environment like a metaverse have seen ROIs grow by 450%.

Beyond that benefit, retailers who leverage today’s advanced virtual reality technology have access to data analytics based on user interactions in the metaverse, which can help optimize product placement.  Marketers can not only determine which products are most popular, but also analyze traffic and track user activity, essential steps toward increasing customer engagement, brand loyalty and, ultimately, sales.

Spread the brand story

Unlike retail spaces in the physical world, virtual experiences have very few limitations. They’re never hindered by construction costs, crowded showrooms, inconvenient locations, or the wrong time of day. In the metaverse, even the most fantastical visions can be brought vividly to life and made accessible by retailers to all consumers.

It’s also possible to manage 3D virtual reality stores with software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that give retailers full control, without requiring technological expertise. Once they’ve established a strong presence in the metaverse, brands can update their product offerings, store decor and narratives quickly and easily. This allows brands to align virtual stores with other channels like physical stores and websites, as it’s crucial to ensure that the brand narrative is cohesive across all sales channels, making for a perfect omnichannel approach. Virtual stores may also be integrated with ecommerce systems already in place, facilitating inventory management and direct checkouts.

The metaverse can be an exciting yet comfortable space where customers leave their everyday reality behind and connect with brands on an emotional, personal level.

What’s still to come

It may be a while before the metaverse substantially changes how we work and play and communicate and learn, according to WGSN Insights’ senior strategist, Cassandra Napoli. Still, there are many “entrance points” that retailers should be thinking about now, she says: “Brands must begin to wrap their heads around these immersive virtual spaces and plan their corporate metaverse strategy or run the risk of falling behind.”

The Robin Report neatly sums up the significance of the metaverse, predicting that it will become “a new way to experience the internet,” and represent “an opportunity for any brand ready to meet customers where they are–whether in this world, or one that has not yet been created.”