· 3 min read
The next chapter of the Battle of New York has started, but this one’s not on ice. Although both the Islanders and the Rangers have won four Stanley Cups each, the Islanders might have given Rangers fans a reason to be jealous with its new team store.
The Isles Lab at UBS Arena was launched at the end of the last NHL season for the team’s 50th anniversary, but expanded this year. Unlike most team stores, Isles Lab bridges the worlds of sports, fashion, and technology, curator and consultant Paul Price told Retail Brew. Isles Lab is a level up from the typical warehouse-like team stores, with its wood-paneled interior decorated with vintage rugs, sports equipment, and antique furniture sourced from New York clubs and libraries. But operationally, the store has all the bells and whistles found in upscale brick-and-mortar stores of the modern era.
Price said the Isles Lab is designed to address the gap between cookie-cutter team stores and the increasingly popular streetwear, pop culture, custom design, and overall luxury space that consumers are now craving more than ever.
“When you go into the store, not only you’re getting what you would expect to see…but you also have this element of fashion that is quite remarkable and weaving that in and changing that every single game,” Price said. “Every time you go into the store, you’ll have a new experience.”
The puck stops here: Islanders co-owner Scott Malkin recruited Price to create Isles Lab and lean on his past experience as the head of menswear design at Burberry and Banana Republic to create a retail experience that could serve as a focal point for fans during intermissions. In the store, you’ll be able to find…
- Customizable jerseys
- Custom artwork
- 100 uniquely designed Islander patches
- An Amazon Go-esque frictionless checkout POS system
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But what’s available on any given day might not be there again, as the store will collaborate with some of the largest names in fashion and streetwear, like Antonio Marras and Tristan Detwiler’s Stan, to do exclusive drops.
“We have such a loyal fan base that we didn’t want to offend them by having it just be a bunch of new stuff that they’re not used to,” Price said. “We upped the ante on what that core product was.”
Open-ice hit: Part of the strategy when constructing the store included appealing to all the senses. For example, with its vintage furniture decor, the space visually draws inspiration from old New York in the same vein as the New York Public Library or Grand Central Station, Price explained. Plus, the store uses a candle from fragrance company Apothia, and a DJ curates ’80s music—from the Islanders’ heyday, when the team won its four back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
Price said it’s these elements that separate Isles Lab from most team stores across all sports. And there’s evidence to back up why that’s important.
Anjee Solanki, national director of US retail services at real estate brokerage Collier’s, previously told Retail Brew that a multisensory approach to brick and mortar helps retailers deliver on experiential concepts.
- About 72% of consumers believe that “touch” creates ambiance in a shopping experience, according to a 2022 Collier’s survey. That’s second only to “sight” at 86.5%, and above sound, smell, and taste at 53.8%, 45.6%, and 2.4%, respectively.
“If you are comparing it to maybe other stores, a lot of them are so modern and lack personality,” Price said. “They’re just regular T-stands and things are hanging on grids. It’s all very metallic, metal, and modern. I think there’s no soul to it.”