For years, CB2, sister brand to Crate & Barrel, has embraced the retail concept that bigger is better. Think stores that are nearly 10,000 square feet and span two floors.
Now the Chicago-based company believes small is beautiful. On Thursday, it is opening its first Design Shop at the Malibu Country Mart. The outpost will be one-fourth the size of its traditional furniture stores and staffed only with interior stylists consulting with customers who may want to remodel an entire home or just need a new piece of furniture to change things up.
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This smaller footprint makes it easier to fit into compact shopping centers like the Malibu Country Mart where CB2’s fellow retail tenants include a host of high-end clothing stores, such as Madison, Chrome Hearts, Double RL & Co., and Ron Herman.
The store is located 25 miles north of L.A. in the seaside mart frequented by celebs and influencers. It is also adjacent to well-to-do L.A. suburbs Calabasas and Hidden Hills, whose residents include the Kardashian clan and athletes such as LeBron James.
“Malibu felt like the best place to start this kind of retail concept,” explained CB2 President Ryan Turf.
Since 2009, CB2 has had a larger-format store on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood spanning two floors in a service-oriented building with a movie theater, gym, restaurants and a parking garage underneath. The new Malibu store, at only 2,250 square feet, feels more like a showroom where shoppers can browse a vast array of merchandise, pick up housewares or order a sofa to be delivered in a few days.
For those in need of a quick fix, the Design Shop will stock one-of-a-kind vintage furniture and rugs and luxury items including lotions, scented candles and plants expanding the brand in a more lifestyle direction. There will also be design demonstrations, designer meet-and-greets and design-forward panel discussions with CB2 experts.
“People are coming in for a real connection. Otherwise, you’re just going to shop online, right?” Turf said. Online was great during the pandemic, but customers want to feel the fabric and plop down in a chair or sofa to see if it’s comfortable. This fall, the company will be adding more custom upholstery selections with additional colors and fabric options, as CB2 positions itself as more fashion and design-focused.
CB2 was launched in 2000 as a brand where younger, budget-minded customers furnishing their first apartments could find affordably priced pieces. In the last few years, Ryan and his team have been raising the bar, launching collaborations with Lenny Kravitz, retailer Fred Segal and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, among others.
One of the company’s latest stores opened in February outside of Detroit in the tony suburb of Birmingham, Michigan. It is slightly smaller at 5,900 square feet and offers more design elements.
The home-furnishings chain is also stepping up the quality of its merchandise and its prices. While you still can buy a water glass for $2.50 or walnut tongs for $7.95, sofas sell for as much as $2,999 and a marble dining table fetches $3,999.
The new Design Shop is an experiment in a smaller format that could be rolled out in other locations if all goes well in Malibu. “This store is really a test case,” Turf said. “We’ll see what we need to do to evolve the concept and go from there.”
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