New York City’s SoHo neighborhood is home to Preview, the next phase in the evolution of retail. Wrapped in the appearance of a clothing retailer, a step inside reveals a holistic wellness hub that meets the desires of today’s health-conscious consumer. The apparel selection is carefully curated to suit the tastes of their customer and includes brands that can only be found online, giving consumers the opportunity to see what they like before making a purchase and giving brands the opportunity to connect with consumers in a brick and mortar store. They also have recovery and optimization technologies, food and drinks, supplements, and fitness classes that combine to make Preview not just a store, but a lifestyle destination.
In this deep dive, you will learn …
Geoff Harris and the inspiration behind Preview (0:37)
- Was initially solving a problem for himself
- In addition to being a retail store, Preview NYC brings together fitness, nutrition, education, advice
- They are seen as a destination to learn
Preview and the future of retail (1:15)
- A holistic experience
- Buyers want to feel a connection with brands
- Brands reflect the lifestyle people want to project
- Apparel companies want to be in retail but can’t open their own stores and Preview lets them
- Preview solves a problem for the brand as well as the customer, who prefers to not purchase online
The future of Preview (3:33)
- Large and small format stores that provide different experiences
- Wants to partner with every aspect of the fitness industry to bring classes and training to larger stores
- A full-service experience where the store is part of your life and the retail component is not always the primary focus
What kind of people like Preview (4:40)
- Everyone from the gym rat looking for technical apparel to the guy who wants to dress comfortably
- Anyone looking for high-quality athletic apparel, recovery technology, optimization supplements
What separates Preview (6:44)
- Changing the way products are being sold to consumers
- Allowing people to determine what works best for them before having to spend more than they would want
- They help you find products that align with your lifestyle
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Saad Alam: How you guys doing? I’m with Geoff Harris, the founder, CEO of Preview NYC. We’re excited as all hell to be here. This is one of the most innovative and unique fitness and technology concepts and retail concepts that’s coming together and I can’t wait to actually buy something from here.
Saad Alam: So, Geoff, tell me what inspired you to start this.
Geoff Harris: Yeah, I mean, I’d be lying if it wasn’t that I was an avid consumer of a lot of these brands. I was willing to go through that return cycle more than most. I looked at the ground, and there were five different boxes from five different companies, and said, “This is stupid. Why aren’t any of these companies in a store? I want to shop them all at one time.”
Saad Alam: Tell me, why did you decide that you wanted to fuse supplements with technology with different brands in retail?
Geoff Harris: It’s mixing in fitness, it’s mixing in nutrition. It’s mixing in education, advice. Obviously, products are one component, but it’s the general way we fit in. We’re not just a destination to shop. We’re a destination to learn.
Saad Alam: It’s interesting. And so do you really feel like … it almost sounds like you identified the fact that there are these barriers that are being broken right now, and that everything is all part of one real large experience.
Geoff Harris: Yeah, I think that experience is the prevailing lifestyle, right? People are becoming healthier, people want transparency into the products they’re buying to supplement that lifestyle. We’re playing on that.
Saad Alam: Where do you think that … how do you think that changes us as people?
Geoff Harris: I think it makes you, it goes two ways, right? The brands become part of you and you become part of the brands. I think that’s why people are looking for these connections. When you look back at history, people wore Nike not just because they like the shoes. They wore it because they’re about that lifestyle. You have all of these brands who are hitting that maturation factor in an online capacity, but the relationship between brand and consumer is a physical one. So you have brands who need to come forward and make that jump and Preview is hoping to be the medium to help people do so.
Saad Alam: Tell me about, what happens to Preview? Is this the one shot that you guys have?
Geoff Harris: Yeah, that’s a good question. We want to be the alternative for brands looking at brick and mortar. When brands think of scaling into retail, it’s a really disjointed experience right now, with few options. Retail can be accessed through wholesale accounts, where you lose your brand identity, or through rolling out your own stores. Our view is the single brand, nationwide rollout is dead, but brands still have a need to access these physical spaces. For us, it’s creating a scalable platform that people can plug into that we believe in.
Saad Alam: Tell me, what does something like this look like at scale? What does the actual store look like? How is it different?
Geoff Harris: It’s a mix of two things. It’s large format and small format stores. Just mirroring how other people have gone out into brick and mortar. In our large format stores, we love to partner with every part of the fitness industry, so whether it’s group fitness classes, one on one training, in addition to our retail segment. Really honing in on that house of health type model.
Geoff Harris: Smaller format stores just help people reach deeper into markets. I think the combination of the two gives brands the ability to one, stand out, but do so in a way that can be meaningful and across an entire geographic region.
Saad Alam: So kind of paint a picture for me. If I was coming into one of your new concepts that you’re thinking about, the large format concepts, if I walk into the front door, what do I see? What does my time there look like?
Geoff Harris: Yeah, so, you know, going back to what we were saying before, we want Preview to be not a shopping destination, but part of your life. So you’re coming to Preview to work out. You’re coming to get the food that you’re eating, and it just so happens that we also sell products.
Geoff Harris: We’re a lifestyle first organization, so we’re not trying to push anything on you. We’re a discovery platform. You see us as a way, you know, like a living blog in a sense. We’re doing the curation for you so you can come in and have an enjoyable experience.
Saad Alam: Tell me, do you have a couple stories, this might be hard, but do you have a couple examples of people that have come in here who have felt like the experience has been so above and beyond what they had seen previously?
Geoff Harris: Yeah, we have two types of customers. We have the guy who doesn’t work out and walks around the city in all athletic apparel and then we have the guy who works out seven days a week and is looking for technical apparel.
Geoff Harris: I think what really has separated us in the market from a customer experience standpoint is both of those guys come in, have individual unique experiences, but both love what they’re finding. That’s what we’re about. It’s not about capturing one type of individual or one modality. It’s about everything, but doing it in a consistent way.
Saad Alam: What’s your most favorite thing here?
Geoff Harris: Ooh …
Saad Alam: Like if I give you … let me even say differently. If I give you $500, and I said, “Spend this $500,” what would you spend it on?
Geoff Harris: Yeah, $500. I’m probably buying a Hypervolt and I’m going to get a pair of sweatpants from Descente.
Saad Alam: Why Descente and why the Hypervolt?
Geoff Harris: Hypervolt has changed my life. Hypervolt has made recovery accessible in an easy to use format. I’m a big fan of all their products, but I live by the massage gun.
Geoff Harris: Descente I like for their attention to detail. You have, they have little things that just stick out and being in this industry, I’m more or less a connoisseur of sweatpants. There’s an attention to detail you get from a brand that has its roots in skiing that just really transcends in its products. So whether it’s from a material standpoint, how the pants lay, little things that kind of stand out as you, when you own 20 pairs of sweatpants, you look for these little intricacies. Yeah, I think they’re an amazing brand. They’ve done a lot to launch this first athletic line and they’ve waited a hundred years to do so, and I think it’s right on track and it speaks for itself.
Saad Alam: Do you have 20 pairs of sweatpants?
Geoff Harris: I do have 20 pairs of sweatpants.
Saad Alam: Okay, so you really appreciate these-
Geoff Harris: My closet is mostly sweatpants.
Saad Alam: I think I’m jealous.
Geoff Harris: It’s a good place to be.
Saad Alam: It’s a good place to be. Now, tell me, if there’s two or three things that you’re dying to get in here, what are those things?
Geoff Harris: Two or three things that we want to get in here? You know, in the next iteration of the concept, I want a fully functioning café. I think there’s a lot of nutritional products out there that we’d like to work with, but I don’t think the right environment is necessarily selling full packaging. I think the way that products need to be sold is more in a sampling format and so anything we can build to help facilitate that versus just saying, “Here’s a full package of this supplement. Tell us if you like it.” I think it should be more on a try before you buy basis.
Saad Alam: That’s really smart. I would completely agree with that, too, because I think there a million things I want to buy. I’m scrolling on my phone all day long, and I’m like, “Dammit, I want to buy that. I want to buy that,” but I don’t want to commit to $50.
Geoff Harris: It’s tough. Again, it’s the same with the apparel, right? Everyone tells you they have the best, it’s going to make you feel like this, this is going to get better, but the only way to figure out is to try it and it’s asking a lot from consumers when they’re being bombarded all the time to buy fully into something without letting them test it.
Saad Alam: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). What do you think is the best thing here for someone that is just getting their feet wet for the first time?
Geoff Harris: What is the best thing? I would say just coming in and just asking. I think people have a lot of questions about the apparel that they’re buying and we have a strong diversity in here, so I think people who come in and look for more consultation is something that we offer that no other store really does. If you go into Lululemon, if you go into Nike, they only have those products. They’re trained to sell you those products. We’re trained to help you align with your lifestyle.
Geoff Harris: So it goes back to that customer thing, right? You’re the guy who works out seven days a week, we can help you find something in here. If you’re the guy who’s not really working but enjoys a nice pair of athletic wear, we can also help you on that mission.
Saad Alam: So you guys are almost like a sherpa, a little bit, right?
Geoff Harris: We’re connectors.
Saad Alam: Yup. Nice. Well, hey, I appreciate this time tremendously. This is exciting. I can’t wait for the next store.
Geoff Harris: Cool, man.
Saad Alam: When do you think it opens?
Geoff Harris: Targeting 9/1/2019.
Saad Alam: All right man. Well, I appreciate this very much. This has been great.
Geoff Harris: Thanks man.