Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Pirch, a high-end home store, is making shopping for the most mundane items a beautiful and interactive experience.
The average person stays in Pirch for two hours testing items like sinks, ovens, tubs, and toilets.
The retailer has eight showrooms around the country, but has plans to expand to dozens more.
We toured the new location at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, to see what all the hype was about.
Pirch opened a huge anchor store in the mall at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey a month ago. The average location is 27,000 square feet.
Shoppers entering the store are greeted by baristas, who offer to make a custom beverage for free.
CEO Jeffrey Sears told Business Insider that his company doesn’t do traditional advertising, instead choosing to invest in free food and drink for customers.
Pirch says that giving customers a beverage of their choice puts them at ease. It could also keep people from leaving the store and seeking refreshments elsewhere.
Pirch has struggled to shake the perception than it is more expensive than traditional home stores. The brand carries many traditional home store names like Whirlpool, Maytag, Kohler, and Frigidaire.
A big section of the store shows off outdoor and patio equipment like grills. There are televisions and beer taps for relaxing. The store manager says that many husbands end up in this room when they grow tired of discussing home renovations. The company also hosts events to demonstrate the grills (which don’t normally turn on).
Then there’s this bathroom area, which Pirch calls the “Sanctuary.” It is set apart from the rest of the store and has a quiet, serene feel. Customers can reserve times outside normal business hours to test out the aromatherapy shower.
Pirch has tablets that operate more than a dozen different shower heads. This was a fun experience. Pirch says that kids love testing out the various aspects of the store, making it more likely that their parents will stay longer.
Here’s a close-up of all the shower head options. Sears says that he wanted to create a more pleasant, fun experience than the average home store. Associates are also on hand to explain the differences between products.
Executives say that the bathroom is very important because it’s the only place most adults get privacy before starting their days.
Pirch also had different bidet toilets that turn on so you can test water pressure. They’re in public, so you probably don’t actually want to test them in-store.
Most of the sinks are wired to turn on and off, making the shopping experience more “real,” Pirch’s CEO says. “Forced to journey through endless rows of plumbing fixtures and appliances, stacked tall in stark warehouse environments, customers were compelled to imagine what this metal box or that porcelain cube might look like in their homes,” he says. Pirch believes that making everything interactive makes customers feel more connected.
The ability to test products is part of the reason the average visitor at Pirch stays in the showroom for two hours. Rather than focusing on promotions or prices, Pirch focuses on hospitality and entertainment.
The entertainment and hospitality values extend to the kitchen. Pirch employs professional chefs to demonstrate equipment and teach cooking classes.
The chefs do demonstrations with Pirch’s equipment. Customers can check out the event series online and select things that interest them, like cooking with a pizza oven or a salt block. Pirch offers complimentary food and wine at these events.
They also make meals for the staff to eat. Sears says the communal meals helps foster community within his stores and leads to happier employees. Lululemon is another brand that hosts events, believing it leads to increased loyalty and grassroots expansion.
The chefs also entertain customers’ children and let them help with tasks like making cookies. Children often get bored during shopping for mundane items like appliances and want to leave before parents are ready. Sears says that many kids also sit at Pirch’s tables and do their homework while enjoying a complimentary snack.
Many of Pirch’s products have unconventional qualities. This oven has two doors that open, meaning that the customer doesn’t have to lean over to remove items. This feature wouldn’t be obvious at the average home store.
Stovetops and ovens are some of the few products that don’t actually turn on, but they are still set so people can test the timers and knobs.
The store’s clean design and interactive format has garnered comparisons to the Apple Store. The design also “compels customers to focus on what they want to do, rather than what they want to buy, which makes the ultimate purchase that much more rewarding,” retail industry website The Robin Report writes. This leads to increased loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations, which Pirch relies on because it doesn’t use traditional advertising.
Pirch first launched in 2010 after years of research on how to make a home store in this unique format. To date, the company has invested $100 million into its stores. The company “does not focus on new things to buy, but rather, new things to do,” Sears says.
Product pricing is listed in one place at each display instead of on each item, creating a cleaner look. There are also cards that customers can take for future reference.
Pirch also has a gift shop with finishing touches for the home. These impulse purchases are placed in beautifully-designed displays that customers pass as they exit the store.
The gift shop products are curated and change constantly, adding excitement to a store that primarily sells products like dishwashers, stoves, and ovens.
You’ve toured Pirch home store…