Babeland heightens the senses with a new look and a welcoming vibe
With retail stores already serving the east and west coasts, Babeland, a women-friendly adult sex toy company, was looking to refresh their SoHo shop in downtown Manhattan. The space would hold an expanded product line, bring in new displays, and an improved flow, as well as aim for a higher level shopping experience. Based in Concord, California, they posted their project on Sweeten, a free service matching business owners with vetted general contractors, to find a contractor who could execute and communicate from across the country. With a strong vision in mind, the brand unveils a welcoming new shop for the community.
PROJECT: Babeland renovates their Manhattan location in SoHo
LOCATION: 43 Mercer Street, New York, New York (between Grand & Broome)
RENOVATION TEAM: Sweeten general contractor
INTERVIEW WITH: Director of Visual Merchandising, Sharon Lee based in Concord, CA
Sweeten: What is Babeland and how did the brand begin?
Sharon: Babeland was modeled after its sister company, Good Vibrations, a women-founded sex-positive adult toy company that opened in San Francisco in response to the lack of women-friendly sex shops. The first Babeland store was opened in 1993 in Seattle, offering a safe, welcoming, and non-judgmental environment where customers could shop for sex toys and books, as well as attend workshops and inspiring events. The store’s popularity led to three more locations in New York.
Sweeten: What led to the remodeling of your retail space?
Sharon: The SoHo location opened in 2003, and after 15 years, it was time to refresh the store to stay relevant within the community and to improve the shopping experience for our customers. In the past year, we had increased our product selection dramatically and needed ways to present these products. We also needed a more efficient plan for storing product so staff could easily merchandise and restock the shelves. This meant moving inventory up to the sales floor. We created a storage room in the back that took up more square footage, but because of the new fixture plan and flow, the store actually feels more spacious and allows for easier navigation from section to section.
I felt completely confident with the process, even with being close to 3,000 miles away from the project.
Sweeten: How does your new retail design represent your brand?
Sharon: We were able to create better ways to showcase our large product selection and still keep the store feeling welcoming, safe, and fun. We used sleek tables and cabinets that allow our products to shine and encourage customers to explore. Customers can see more products through printed posters, mannequins, or display units; the shopping experience is much more interesting.
Our entryway has selfie stations where customers can have a little fun. They break the ice for those who may never have been to a sex toy shop or are apprehensive to enter. They allow customers to relax and realize that this can be a fun place to shop.
Sweeten: How was your vision executed by working with your Sweeten general contractor?
Sharon: Executing a remodel from across the country always poses potential problems. This remodel was scheduled to happen at our busiest time of year, so I was unable to get to New York to meet with contractors. Once our contractor was selected through Sweeten, I presented scaled drawings of the changes needed for this project, and through phone calls and emails, we were able to get the project underway. It was very helpful having an outstanding area manager, Amy Carnegie, on site to act as a liaison when necessary. Once I arrived in New York, the final stages of the renovation were completed.
Sweeten: How did you, as a client, work with Sweeten?
Sharon: It had been years since I last worked with a contractor in New York, so I needed a reliable resource to help find a contractor that could execute the work required within our budget. I presented the job requirements through Sweeten’s website and immediately received responses. They matched us with quite a few potential contractors. Once we accepted a bid from our chosen contractor, Sweeten stayed in touch with me on several occasions to check on progress, and offer assistance if needed. I felt completely confident with the process, even with being close to 3,000 miles away from the project.
Sweeten: How do you think Sweeten can help entrepreneurial companies like yourself?
Sharon: The services Sweeten offer are fantastic. The contractors have been vetted by Sweeten and clients can correspond freely with the contractors through Sweeten’s email system and make choices based on their particular needs. All this is happening while knowing the Sweeten staff are keeping an eye on your project. Regardless of the scope or budget of your renovation or build-out, Sweeten has a deep pool of talented contractors/designers they can connect you with.
Check out Babeland for a spot of fun and a dose of good energy.
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