How Lids Translated its Online Limited-Edition Drop Model into Physical Retail

How Lids Translated its Online Limited-Edition Drop Model into Physical Retail
Photo courtesy of Lids Hat Drop

Lids has adapted its online concept of selling limited-edition goods into a brick-and-mortar store, returning to the 29-year-old company’s roots in brick-and-mortar retail. The retailer’s new store in the Queens, N.Y. neighborhood of Jamaica, an area known for its devotion to hat culture, uses displays focused on aesthetics rather than team loyalties to appeal to collecting-minded customers.

Each Friday at 11 a.m. ET, in-person customers have a one-hour window to buy products from dropped collections before the goods become available on the retailer’s ecommerce platform. Additionally, products known as “Queens Store Exclusives” will only be available at the Jamaica Avenue Lids Hat Drop location.

“Following the success of the launch of our platform earlier this year in February, it felt like a no brainer to open a physical store in the hat mecca of the country, Jamaica, Queens, N.Y.,” said Britten Maughan, President of Lids in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We started the Lids Hat Drop ecommerce platform by dropping two collections every week, then moved to one collection every week to have our drops be even more exclusive. At this physical store location, we plan to continue to release exclusive headwear with the same cadence that has performed well among our consumers.”

Throughout 2022, Lids has focused on brick-and-mortar growth, building on its footprint of more than 1,500 locations across North America and Europe, but the company also is diversifying its approach to physical retail. Lids is designing stores around merchandising certain products to feed the demands of consumers who are enthusiasts of particular sports, styles and brands. The retailer entered Australia earlier in 2022 with a Victoria-area location focused on a basketball theme to showcase NBA and WNBA goods. The retailer also introduced its Lids U mall- and outlet-based concept in July 2022, designed to serve key college markets by targeting consumers of NCAA products including headwear, apparel and accessories.


Identifying a Location Connected to the Origin of Hat Culture

When the Lids team searched for a location to build the Lids Hat Drop store, the history of Jamaica, Queens as an influential hub for hat culture offered deep roots within a community that values investments in headwear. The Lids Hat Drop team found the ideal location for its flagship within a 950-square-foot retail space at 168-05 Jamaica Ave., on a popular shopping strip.

“Jamaica, Queens is known as a culture hub with rich, notable headwear history,” said Maughan. “We know that this location and the opportunity to experience exclusive headwear in person will resonate with the local community.”

To honor the heritage of the neighborhood and continue to cultivate the Lids legacy among hat enthusiasts, Lids Hat Drop will serve as a source for:  

  • Exclusive drops of new collections and fresh designs that Lids has developed with designers and influencers;
  • Athlete and celebrity collaborations that pay homage to the local neighborhood; and
  • Community-driven store programming.

“We hope to continue to partner with notable designers and collaborators to create quality hats that we know our consumers will appreciate,” explained Maughan. “We also want the store to be a place where hat heads can come together not just to buy hats but, more importantly, to talk about hats and deepen that sense of community in the hat world.”

Inspiring Creativity Through Artistic Expression and Personalization

Sharing the creative experience with customers by giving ownership over product design to shoppers was an important component of the store’s design. The back of the store houses a Lids’ Custom Zone, where customers are encouraged to customize their purchases through an array of designs and the retailer’s exclusive Embroidigraphs.  

Within the store, Maughan’s team created a retail experience that not only offers exclusive access to limited-edition products but also distinguishes the Lids Hat Drop shop as a destination meant to inspire customer creativity. New York artist Timothy Goodman was commissioned to create a mural that both speaks to the Lids Hat Drop customer and honors the neighborhood.

While the mural grounds the store’s design with permanent messaging, the retailer’s merchandising team experiments with refreshing the appearance of the shop through the limited-edition designs of the products it sells.

“As we continue to release new collections with our brand ambassadors and designers, while the design of the store may remain the same, there is a notable change in the aesthetic of the store with new vibrant colors and bold designs,” said Maughan.

Many Lids Hat Drop customers are collectors who preserve their headwear or display their rare and limited-edition finds as works of art. Creating a retail journey specifically for this consumer, who values the presentation of headwear, was important when designing the store.

“The Lids Hat Drop space was truly designed with our customers in mind — hats are aesthetically displayed for our customers’ ease,” said Maughan. “They are able to try on the hats while they shop and our store associates are readily available to help them with any and all of their headwear needs. We have loyal customers who have impressive hat collections themselves, so we wanted to make sure that we display hats in a way that we knew they would appreciate.”

For Maughan, the design elements that support Lids Hat Drop merchandise and store locations are personal. In June, he debuted his own limited-edition Lids Hat Drop collection, which resonated with hat heads.  

“We debuted the Summit Collection hat drop, which was inspired by mountain peaks like Mount Rainier with granite, sky blue and off-white,” said Maughan. “It featured 31 MLB styles and one Minor League style. The collection sold out within 48 hours of its release and I’m looking forward to potentially designing another collection in the future.”

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