Vancouver-based technical high-performance apparel and equipment brand Arc’teryx has relocated its highly successful Kitsilano store, which opened in 2013, over a couple city blocks into a larger 4,504 sq ft hybrid retail and ReBIRD service centre.
The fifth Arc’teryx brand store within Metro Vancouver, the location is the first of the brand’s “pinnacle” format which Delaney Schweitzer, Chief Commercial Officer, explained further during the media launch this week.
‘Pinnacle’ Store Concept
“This is our first new Pinnacle retail brand store. It opened last Saturday [November 19, 2022] and I am excited to talk about the elements for the store and the location. With our former store nearby being the epicentre of being outdoors, we wanted our first Pinnacle store to be here”.
“We have been working on the concept for a year and a half. When we started our transformation from a wholesale company to focusing on our D2C strategy, we knew we wanted to create a new expression of Arc’teryx. This is the best expression of our brand. We wanted to tie in the luxury, the beauty and the thoughtfulness of our product into the design of the store”.
Purposeful Zones Within the ‘Pinnacle’ Store Concept
Schweitzer continued into a more thorough description of the new store’s footprint as there were several areas/zones. “At the front of the store is our footwear area. It’s fairly new for Arc’teryx and we are working through what that assortment looks like for us while focusing on the mountain athlete. What we solved there is a beautiful design, a white background, and behind the shoe display is our ‘back of house’ so we can almost create our own shop-in-shop inside the store”.
“We have our concept zone in the front where we will be putting our latest innovations. We had the LiTRIC Pack there for opening, so new products we are displaying and new technologies will go into its space”.
Moving forward from the front section of the new ‘pinnacle’ store format, Schweitzer came to the midpoint of the retail floor where “our seasonal products would rotate throughout the year. So our ski and snowboarding items would be out now”. The largest section of the retail floor was “the back half of the store which we term it as the jacket destination – men and women”. Learning from the challenges from the old Kitsilano store, Schweitzer remarked on how “it was hard for guests to find what they were looking for in jackets at our old store. Jackets are displayed from the most severe to the lightest weight. We developed the drawer system below for back stock on the floor. One of the things we found was that our product guys were running to the back for sizes and now a larger selection is available right on the floor”.
With a couple unique items on the retail floor, Schweitzer brought the attention to two unique tables on the retail floor which served a purpose for guest experience:
- The Maker’s Table: “We were inspired by our designers at ARC’One. We are producing our product in New Westminster and they use a similar table. We tied this back as we consider ourselves a design house and see how the lighting will show the product. The other great thing is when we start to think about your next adventure on the mountain, you lay everything out. What socks will I wear, what is my base layer, what is my insulation layer, what’s my outer shell. So they can grab each of these to show all the details and functions of the jacket as well as laying out your gear for the mountain”.
- The Map Table: “We have a community area as it’s a major part of our D2C strategy. Our map table is a focal point as well as different types of gear. The community area is where you come to learn about our local trails, learn about the local mountains”.
Schweitzer continued in explaining the area around the Map Table having “a projector for mountain safety classes. We take groups out in the summer for trail running. We really wanted to bring the community to the mountains”.
Arc’teryx Retail Strategy
As one of the most unique aspects of the new ‘pinnacle’ store format is the “ReBIRD Service Centre”, Schweitzer continued with discussing this second-to-Canada component. “Dominique will show us the care and repair. The second in Canada and first in Vancouver. This is the biggest Canadian expression that we have for ReBIRD. When we thought about what we were best in the world at in terms of building quality, our products live a lifetime. We needed to create a solution for care and repair. We started talking about it like getting your tires changed. Its a personal goal of mine to keep products in use and out of the landfill. Its beautiful jackets and products that we wanted to keep things sustainable”.
“We have six care and repair centers globally and we intend to have one in every major market. As far as the retail strategy, Arc’teryx was a wholesale driven company and it is a big part today. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. As part of our D2C, we did exit some wholesale partners and focused on key partners that aligned to our core values. In 2022, we are opening nine stores. Four in the next two weeks. In 2023, we are planning 16 in North America and Europe. We aren’t exiting wholesale for D2C, but looking at each market that we are in to decide if we want a brand store, where do we want wholesale, how do we deepen our wholesale relationships, and then eCommerce to pick up the rest. We look at each market that way”.
Arc’teryx Community Focus Strategy
Most Canadians know Arc’teryx as a household name; however, more from the wholesale aspect. Schweitzer highlighted “a big part of D2C strategy is a desire to be closer to our guests. When there is someone between you and your guest, you don’t get feedback or build a relationship. We wanted to be able to develop a guest relationship. I have never seen this level of detail in the design of a jacket. In my past, a pattern may have been 20 pieces and one Arc’teryx jacket has 368 pieces. It takes so much care and time that we needed to be able to share that story behind our product with our guests. Guest education is such an important part of our vertical strategy. Also getting the feedback on what is and is not working to bring back to the design team”.
While being close to the guests is a key focus, Schweitzer elaborated as “another focus is around our community. We have done community events with our wholesale partners but being able to lead our community in the mountains is a big part of our commitment for getting people on the mountain, showing these beautiful trails and the mountains really give us our answers. It’s about bringing back the roots of climbing. For areas that don’t have easy access to mountains like Vancouver, connecting in climbing gyms and different academies to do different activities like climb, trail or run”.
“Our community is our people. My goal was to be able to hire more people to work at Arc’teryx embedded in our purpose. Through not only the products they get to test, but being part of a broader community. It’s really about our people and being able to live great lives while working in a retail store with a long career. We have a goal for store managers being here for at least five years and be able to run great businesses as part of our strategy” Schweitzer said.
In conclusion, Schweitzer emphasized that “we will continue the wholesale component in the right way. We will continue to open stores with our wholesale partners. We will continue to do community events to drive more people to our brand stores through eCommerce. So it’s really a holistic approach”.
Arc’teryx ReBIRD service centre
Schweitzer handed the media event over to Dominique Showers, VP of ReBIRD, to delve deeper into the second-to-Canada service centre. The ReBIRD service centre in the new ‘pinnacle’ store format was next to the cash desk, which a washing/laundry centre was located behind. An overview of the ReBIRD services being offered at the new ‘pinnacle’ store location included:
- Product assessment: in-store after-sales assessment, including GORE-TEX leak testing.
- In-store washing: technical wash and DWR-reapplication.
- In-store care & education: hands-on education about product care.
- In-store repair: zipper repair services including slider, pull cord, pull and bottom box replacement; cord ends, cord locks, and buckle replacement; as well as adhesive patches and heat pressed internal patches.
- Expert repair: colour choices are offered for GORE-TEX fabric replacement or full zipper replacement for repairs offsite.
Showers began by explaining “ReBIRD is our sustainability commitment. Really thinking about durability, and extending the lifespan of our products. We always offered servicing in our store as a fundamental part of who we are on our journey. ReBIRD really showcases this to have it being a full circle of the experience inside of Arc’teryx. From beginning to end, when you are thinking about purchasing you are getting product education on how to care for the garment, extend the life of them. If you need service for your garment then its right here, front and center. We will offer product care education but also do DWR re-applications and garment washing onsite. There are light touch repairs onsite”.
“Where this is all rooted, durability and service as a whole has been a pillar for our brand. Ten years ago, we started looking at our material infrastructure to find materials that would last and our impact on the environment. Four years ago, we launched with a resale partner in the USA called “Trove” which was our resale. All these initiatives bubbled up the passion of people in Arc’teryx that didn’t want to see anything go to waste. Though they were disjointed. Last year, we put everything under our circularity and ReBIRD”.
As the sustainability initiatives expanded, Showers explained that there were three programs:
ReBIRD: The in-store care and repair experience;
ReGEAR: Arc’teryx used gear resale program; and
ReCUT: The third is up/down cycling taking end/used materials and repurposing them into something new.
She expanded further by saying, “this platform enables us the opportunity to extend beyond these programs and look into the future. We are looking at the design innovation on how we can design for circularity, design for durability, design for disassembling/tailoring, and that is all happening upstream with our design teams. Downstream includes thinking about textile recycling as a whole. Everything from packs to footwear to jackets. These centres are starting points for us but they will continue to evolve”.
When asked about the start of ReBird, Showers said, “the first service center was launched in Manhattan on Broadway to see what we could potentially learn from bringing service to the forefront. It was when COVID was starting to wrap up. It took off. We were able to resolve 3/4 of the cases onsite for the guest. This translates to a better guest experience, getting back on the mountain faster and learning how to take care of the products. It was an amazing experience for us and we decided to open more. We opened the CF Toronto Eaton Centre ReBIRD location this past summer. Shortly after, we opened a larger expression in Boulder, Colorado. Even internationally, there is one in Tokyo and another in Beijing. We want one in every key epicentre”.
Tying the concepts back to Schweitzer’s highlights on the repair aspects of Arc’teryx, Showers confirmed that “all major repairs for North America happen in New Westminster at ARC’One” and elaborated that “if you were able to see our design suite in North Vancouver, you’d see the similar tools there that would be in our ReBIRD store which are used for repairs. Beyond those, we have washer/dryers behind the cash drawers. We also use guppy bags when we wash to reduce the impact on our water usage. It takes about three days to turn around a garment”.
She continued that “there are replacement parts, head press machines, testing areas to see exactly what is wrong with it right in front of the guest. Zipper sliders, holes in the garment can be repaired. Anything larger would need to be sent back to New Westminster and brought back. Many people think that a jacket when a zipper breaks, cuff gets ripped or otherwise, most people would think your jacket is done. Full panels can be replaced. Seams can be retaped. The easiest repair that takes five minutes is a zipper repair. One of the things we have been doing with ReBIRD is recapturing materials that may not have the best first condition when they were first created. Everything that comes into our stream is warranty write offs, returns with damage, voluntary trade in for refund, and quality control issues to bring back and be able to resell it”.
As the media event wrapped up, the Arc’teryx crew continued to bustle around with opening day activities and provided a couple additional details about the new Arc’teryx ‘pinnacle’ store format:
This launch follows other ReBIRD Service Center openings in New York, Toronto, Boulder, Tokyo and Beijing.
Arc’teryx Kitsilano by numbers:
- 4,504 sq ft store size including 500 sq ft ReBIRD™ Service Center
- Second ReBIRD™ Service Center in Canada
- Brand’s first Pinnacle store, offering the widest selection of Arc’teryx products
- Address: 110-120 2201 w4th street, Vancouver, BC