Swarovski Retail VP Dishes on the Brand’s New Midtown Digs

The success of Swarovski retail stores is largely dependent on organic foot traffic, says John Heidt, the company’s vice president of retail—making it highly probable that the brand’s latest store, opening in late July at the foot of the Roosevelt Hotel on bustling Madison Avenue in New York City, may evolve into one of its most lucrative yet.

“We view that part of Madison as having very strong every day commuter traffic,” says Heidt. “And we’re anticipating, with extension of the Long Island railway to Grand Central, even more traffic coming to the area. We see it as potentially having more traffic that Madison and 58th,” he adds, referring to the location of the nearest Swarovski store.

A rendering of Swarovski’s Crystal Forest design scheme (courtesy of Swarovski)

Company stores in destination locations—even tucked into luxury wings in shopping malls, which tend to lure less foot traffic—have not been successful for the brand in the past, he says.

Though the store will boast Swarovski’s icy-feeling Crystal Forest design concept, which first debuted in Tokyo in 2008, the 1,654-square-foot space will differ from the company’s existing stores in a number of ways.

It’s the first Swarovski store to feature a seating area, composed of an L-shaped sofa swathed in (what else?) a proprietary crystallized mesh fabric. 

The boutique will span two levels. (Nearly all Swarovski stores are one level.) And it’s the next-to-largest store for the brand, second only to its flagship on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

The new shop will also boast dual entrances: one on Madison Avenue and another that opens into the Roosevelt Hotel. “We’re hoping to capitalize on both the hotel and street traffic,” says Heidt. “There’s a strong international component there because of the hotel, and that’s a big part of our demographic.” New York City has and, Heidt guesses, will continue to be, the company’s highest volume region in the world. The brand is poised to open its newly remodeled Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan this August.

Street side, the unit will feature gargantuan display windows (rambling up to 35 feet in height), boasting a glittering decor scheme of 3-D, stainless-steel prisms that reflect the city’s lights at night.

This will be one of the few company stores to stock every Swarovski collection, including the biannual fashion collections, more affordable “timeless” pieces, crystal figurines, charms, beads, and watches. There will also be a “large collection of crystal jewelry that’s made of crystal only,” including stylish bulky crystal rings and pendants, says Heidt.

Roughly half the store’s inventory will be behind glass, while the remaining stock will populate open displays, including an interactive ring table featuring more than 50 different rings.

The average price point for merchandise will be $125, but pieces will range from $30 for products including pens and stackable bracelets up to $750 for a large crystal figurine.

The new spot will be a company-owned location, but Swarovski is in the midst of a rapid expansion of its licensed boutique business, primarily in airports and casinos. Next up: “You’ll see us going into many more street locations in core city urban areas and suburban downtowns,” says Heidt. Greenwich, Conn., for one, is “on the list.”

JCK Magazine Editor