Keeping up with consumer trends is the cornerstone strategy of any successful specialty retailer, and The Container Store is matching modern shoppers’ interest in customization options through its Custom Closets store concept. While the brand’s proprietary Elfa Classic and Elfa Décor lines have existed for more than 40 years, current shoppers’ desire for more than functional storage space means this market is on the rise.
“We are seeing a trend of customers using storage bins, baskets and drawers that they are proud to display in their home and not hide away in a closet,” said Val Richardson, VP of Real Estate at The Container Store in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Especially with smaller spaces, storage has to help maximize space but also blend in with the interior design of the home. Our customers want to have a resource for complete storage and organization solutions; we provide both the expertise and the products to accomplish their projects.”
The new Custom Closets store, which is located at a remodeled location in Los Angeles, shows off its style with more than 65 closet and lifestyle displays for rooms including the pantry, garage and office. Sales of Custom Closet items have been a major driver for the retailer even outside of the dedicated shop: overall same-store sales at the retailer grew 7.8% in Q1 2019, of which five percentage points were generated by custom closet items.
The custom closet revolution spurred the addition of the Avera line earlier this year. This flexible design was created to help shoppers give their closets a built-in look at an affordable price, and marked the fourth brand in The Container Store’s custom closet portfolio. By combining its wide selection with a dedicated location, the retailer is poised to both ride sales growth in this area and educate customers about its possibilities.
“We see a huge opportunity to increase our share of the approximately $6 billion custom closets market,” said Richardson. “Locally, our [Los Angeles] store will increase awareness of the breadth of opportunities our custom closets offer through more than 65 closet and lifestyle displays, which is nearly 3X what we have in our traditional retail stores. Along with complementary products, this store is perfectly positioned to be the one-stop resource for our customers.”
Experts And Visuals Are Part Of The Equation
The Custom Closet store also differs from traditional locations by including space for interior designers to hold meetings with clients, playing to shoppers’ interest in speaking and meeting with experts during their journey. The area is designed so that The Container Store’s own associates can also use it to educate customers and show off the range of products available.
“This area is also used for walk-in customers or those with appointments for closet and space designs and solution ‘reveals’ with store personnel,” said Richardson. “This gathering space is surrounded by smaller displays of the four closet lines including every finish and accessory so trade members, designers and customers can touch, feel and experience the options while working on a project with a client.”
The visual aspect of the design station is particularly important in today’s Instagram-obsessed world. Shoppers often come in with an idea of what they want their custom closet to look like, and having tangible samples on hand makes it easier for them to choose items that will best match their vision.
“Customers increasingly show store employees photos from social media of ‘the look’ they want to achieve,” said Richardson. “Organization has become more of a focus in the past year with the rise of organization influencers like The Home Edit and Marie Kondo, and accomplishing projects in the home is something people are proud to showcase.”
The Custom Closet concept has proven successful in an urban environment, and the next step is testing out a store in a more suburban part of North Dallas. The popularity of custom closets means both geographies should offer growth potential, according to Richardson.