Warby Parker opens Chicago concept shop

Eyeglass retailer Warby Parker will open its first dedicated Chicago storefront this week. The concept shop, located at 837 W. Armitage Ave. and previously an American Apparel store, is a temporary location until it opens permanently down the road at number 851, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The store will feature a free portrait studio, where local professional photographers can get shots both for the customers and the company's marketing material. Other fun features include a free video jukebox—an old TV with a VHS player—where shoppers can pick from a selection of winter and holiday movies. In addition, the shop will sell rare vintage cameras in partnership with A&A Studios. 

For easy customer purchases, tablets are available in-store. Shoppers can buy and take home glasses and sunglasses, non-prescription, immediately or order prescription lenses.

While the Warby Parker brand has been available since 2010 in other retail stores, it's just starting to branch out into its own retail storefronts. The company now has nine stand-alone stores including three in New York, two in Los Angeles, one in each Boston, Dallas and Atlanta.

The brick-and-mortar stores are now collectively turning a profit, reported the Wall Street Journal. They sell an average of $3,000 per square foot annually. The first test was in Manhattan's SoHo district and later this month a store will open in San Francisco.

"We quickly realized that while we were seeing all the benefits we expected from branding and marketing—the 'halo' effect of having a store open—stores could be a meaningful driver of sales and profitability, which was really unexpected," Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO told the Wall Street Journal.

Some of the perks of the physical store have been letting customers see, touch and try on the glasses, and saving on shipping costs. The harder part is paying for and training employees.

More e-commerce players are testing physical stores including RentTheRunway, Bonobos and even Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Earlier this year, Warby Parker topped Fast Company's list of the world's most innovative companies.

For more:
-See this Wall Street Journal article
-See this Chicago Tribune article

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