Three weeks after retail giant Macy's announced it was closing 68 stores and cutting more than 10,000 jobs, the retail forecast for 2017 got much gloomier. But Neil Blumenthal, CEO of Warby Parker, announced yesterday that the eyewear startup plans to open at least 25 brick-and-mortar locations this year.
"I don't think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead," Blumenthal said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Warby Parker, which is now worth more than $1 billion, currently has 46 retail locations in the U.S. The company's new stores will expand its footprints in major cities like Miami, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
Warby Parker lets customers select up to five styles of eyeglasses online and have them delivered to their homes to test out for free. Blumenthal believes that the Netflix-type model allows the company to handle shifting consumer preferences better than its competitors. "We know more about our customers and can tailor the experience much better than a traditional retailer, which doesn't know as much about its customers and might be selling another brand's products," he said.
Warby Parker has not hinted at plans to go public anytime soon. Rather, Blumenthal has said that he and his co-founders are constantly deliberating how to maintain their growth without burning out. "It's not intelligent to grow in the short term at the expense of the long-term potential," he previously told Inc. "For us, it's all about wild, fast growth while maintaining awesome customer experiences."