It was once considered the retailer’s crown jewel—a big format store on a swank hall that showed off one of the best of what a brand needed to supply. However, now the so-called flagship store is disappearing from high-profile purchasing thoroughfares like Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile due to skyrocketing rents and the shift to on-line purchasing, the AP studies. During the last year or so, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Lord & Taylor, and Polo Ralph Lauren have closed their flagship shops on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Abercrombie introduced in May that it was closing three more of its large areas all over the world. Other retailers are reimagining the flagship idea as an alternative to abandoning it altogether.
Nike, for example, lets customers see details of things displayed on a mannequin by scanning the QR code after which having these objects delivered to a fitting room or a designated pickup spot. Those still clinging to the old idea, however, are having a tougher time—like Barneys New York, which is now taking a look at the possible bankruptcy. The idea of a flagship store is more than a century old and was once limited to retailers’ biggest store. However in the last 20 years, a flagship store frenzy took to hold, and retailers from Gap to H&M checked out them as a must-have shrine to their brands, opening a number of flagships in multiple places, including luxurious corridors.