Business

Retail talk: Dexter Peart on the new Want Apothecary retail concept at the NoMad Hotel.

By modern luxury standards — remember, most upstarts in the sector are still less than six years old — Want Les Essentiels is a dinosaur: 11 years old, and still going strong.

Twin brothers and co-founders Dexter and Byron Peart have built Want’s reputation on the idea of movement — as the weekender, backpack, and duffel bag of choice for the clubby global elite. At the moment though, they’re focused on something a far less mobile: scaling up their second permanent retail concept, Want Apothecary.

Earlier this month, they opened up their newest location stationed in New York’s swanky NoMad Hotel. In a phone call with Lean Luxe last week, Dexter Peart shared some of the key insights behind how the new location fits within Want’s broader retail thinking.

The Apothecary concept: Want Apothecary houses both Want products and a like-minded assortment of beauty and fragrance items (names you might know: Byredo, Grown Alchemist, an organic skincare line, and Verso). Per its name, the Apothecary concept is an effort to preserve (and modernize) the idea of the hometown, neighborhood North American apothecary, Dexter told us.

Keep in mind: Want’s Apothecaries are completely separate from its Want Les Essentiels flagship (there’s one, recently opened, in the West Village). Want flagships are monobrand stores for Want products only.

So, why two retail concepts? Good question. Ostensibly, the Pearts spot an opportunity, here. In speaking to Lean Luxe Dexter said that Want Les Essentiels itself is “by far the majority of the business” (Want also has an agency side, which existed six years prior to creating Want Les Essentiels the brand). So the thinking is to solve a niche retail and travel problem — (high-minded) convenience — which could mean big business if the Apothecary idea truly scales. Dexter offered this to BoF recently:

“Whether it’s men’s, women’s, young or old, we see an opportunity — especially as there is more and more interest in travel — to have needs for these kind of travel solutions that we are creating, that are super well made and at a commercial price point”.

The strategy: Apothecary numero uno opened in Montreal in 2011, and the first three Apothecaries — Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver — have been strictly Canadian. Dexter told us that they’ve refined the model in Canada first, and now bringing it international. Hence, the NoMad opening.

This is actually their second NoMad run. The first one, in 2012, coincided with the unveiling of the NoMad. That version of the store was in conjunction with Maison Kitsune. (It was a Maison Kitsune store, basically, with a Want installation — similar to Warby Parker’s ‘store-in-stores’ concept, where they partner with a particular shop or boutique in a key city and have a branded installation inside that space.)

When visiting the NoMad store, keep these notes in mind:

  • This was less about having a great broker, and much, much more about having a pre-existing relationship with NoMad. In other words, this didn’t just fall into their lap. “Obviously I could make myself seem really brilliant,” Dexter said, but they’ve had a strong, five-year working relationship with property management.
  • “Familial”: The key word Dexter used to describe the relationship between them and the NoMad team.
  • NoMad and the Apothecary mission are a perfect pairing: Here’s Dexter: “Let’s put it this way, if you rewind five years, on the corner of 28th and Broadway, there was really not much there. There was obviously the Ace Hotel one block up, but the NoMad came in as an original concept.” The hotel has since helped to revitalize the area, and it’s been smart about the way it’s gone about it. “They really wanted to be quite local in how they approached [things], and also be a luxury proposition at the exact same time,” Dexter said. Re: Apothecary concept — sound familiar?
  • Local vs tourists: Both are top of mind for the NoMad and for Want. Dexter told Lean Luxe that there’s a strong mix between creative class locals in the neighborhood, and internationals who travel in and out of the city and want more of an insider-y, local vibe that both the NoMad and Ace are structured to provide. Apothecary, clearly, is tapping into that.

Why this is (very) smart for Want: Guaranteed NoMad foot traffic, and excellent access to a key segment of global travelers, insiders, and creatives who frequent the property.

Why this is good for NoMad: Management brings in a globally-minded, design-oriented, high touch retail tenant, which helps to hammer home the sense that, yes, NoMad is in tune with what matters in their guests’ lives, even outside of hospitality.

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