As ‘dull retail is dying,’ Dallas founders announce plans for new department store

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As legacy retailers battle Amazon and suburban malls struggle to stay afloat, a Dallas startup is going the opposite direction: It’s launching a new department store.

Neighborhood Goods plans to open this fall in Plano. It is co-founded by Matt Alexander, a Dallas entrepreneur with fashion and retail experience, and Mark Masinter, a real estate adviser to developers and well-known brands including Apple, J. Crew and Restoration Hardware. Alexander will serve as the company’s chief executive.

But the department store will have a different look and feel than the ones that customers know, Alexander and Masinter said. For one, it will be a fraction of the footprint — 13,000 square feet compared to the typical department store of 150,000 to 300,000 square feet that anchor malls. The store will host speaking events, have its own podcast and include a bar and restaurant. Customers will be able to use an app to navigate the store, call over a sales associate, receive push notifications about an unfamiliar brand or use self-guided checkout.

Alexander and Masinter said department stores aren’t dying, customers have just grown tired of the same old approach.

"There is certainly a lot of turmoil in physical retail. It’s well documented," Alexander said. "But I think all that’s really happening is dull retail is dying. The mundane approach to having a store full of racks that change out on a seasonal basis, that has become an irrelevant business model for a lot of people."

The store will have about 15 brands at a time, with about 4 or 5 household names and a variety of new and local brands, Alexander said. He said it will carry men and women’s clothing and household goods at a range of price points. The brands will rotate, with some staying on racks for months and others for short spans of time.

Customers can purchase items online, but Alexander said the company’s primary emphasis will be sales in the store.

Matt Alexander was previous founder of Edition Collective, an e-commerce fashion company. (Rex C. Curry/Special Contributor)

Alexander and Masinter announced Thursday that they’ve raised $5.75 million of venture capital to fund the build-out of the store, hire employees and build the store’s tech platform and app. Its round of funding was led by San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures and includes Washington, D.C.-based NextGen Venture Partners and other West Coast venture firms Maveron, CAA Ventures and Global Founders Capital.

Alexander previously founded and led Edition Collective, an e-commerce fashion startup. The company was acquired in 2016 for an undisclosed sum by Q Fifty One, a Dallas-based clothing company that has stores in the Southwest. He and Bryan DeLuca, co-founder of Dallas-based Foot Cardigan, started a seasonal pop-up shop of local brands called Unbranded. It recently opened a location at The Statler hotel in downtown Dallas.

Masinter has worked with numerous brands that started with e-commerce only, such as Bonobos and Warby Parker, but later opened a brick and mortar. He said many digitally native brands want to sell in a store, but don’t want their product be in a traditional department store and don’t have a large enough line for a store of their own.

"We are able to be the solution for both of those challenges," he said.

Alexander and Masinter would not specify the first store’s location in Plano, but Masinter has been an active partner in the city’s $2 billion Legacy West development. He’s helped fill its 425,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, which includes the Toyota North American headquarters.

He’s also leading a project to remake Henderson Avenue, a popular East Dallas stretch of restaurants and shops.

Masinter said Neighborhood Goods will test the concept in Plano and then gradually expand to other markets in Texas and beyond.

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