Allbirds opens its first physical shoe store in New York

Business


Call it the next Warby Parker to hit the market, but for shoes.

Allbirds has already won over Silicon Valley, where the business is based, with its wool sneakers spotted on the feet of Google co-founder Larry Page, Twitter Chief Dick Costolo and venture capitalists Ben Horowitz and Mary Meeker, to name a few.

And after growing a successful e-commerce platform, Allbirds will test its fate in setting up a second physical storefront to showcase its products. Starting Thursday, Allbirds’ “concept” shop will open in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, bringing the brand to the East Coast.

The direct-to-consumer company, which just debuted last year, opened its first brick-and-mortar location in San Francisco in April.

“The most important thing for us is to have an interaction with every customer we exchange a product with money for,” co-founder Joey Zwillinger told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday morning. “And we’ve tried to make it as affordable as we can.”

Allbirds’ sneakers are made from renewable merino wool, and they’re being marketed as “the world’s most comfortable shoes.”

The company has raised $27.5 million in equity since its inception, from partners including Tiger Global, Elephant, Maveron and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

Its two versions of shoes — those with laces and those without — run about $95 apiece. And for now, consumers can only get their hands on a pair either through Allbirds’ website or from one of its two stores.

The New York location features a life-size hamster wheel, where shoppers can test out running in the sneakers before they buy. Co-CEO Zwillinger said opening the brick-and-mortar shops has allowed Allbirds to create more of an “immersive” experience.

Online retailers moving offline is no new trend, either.

Warby Parker, Rent the Runway, Bonobos and UnTUCKit offer plenty examples of businesses that started as digitally only, and have since decided to open up shops for customers to feel and try before they buy.

At its New York store, Allbirds will be selling shoe laces inspired by the colors of the NYC subway. It will also have on sale an exclusive version of its shoe, called “Starry Night.”

The Silicon Valley-start-up has manged to grow its business organically, without the help of a third-party platform like Amazon. But Zwillinger won’t count out the idea of opening up to other outlets, one day.



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