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Express at Easton Gets a Makeover

Melanie McIntyre Melanie McIntyre Express at Easton Gets a Makeover
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CLICK HERE to view the full photo gallery from the new Express store at Easton Town Center.

Express at Easton Town Center has been given a makeover.

The 12,500-square-foot store, at 4090 The Strand East, now features a redesign by Masamichi Katayama, principal at Japanese interior design firm Wonderwall. The store concept debuted at King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa. in June 2011.

Elements of the concept can be found at all new Express stores in the United States and Canada, as well as stores under renovation. However, the Easton Express is among a select few −just 7 percent of the retailer’s 600-plus stores− that will be completely redesigned by year’s end.

“Really what I’m most excited about is that it enables us to show off the clothes much better,” said Express Chairman, President and CEO Michael Weiss, of the concept. “And it enables us to make stories because the architecture of the store separates things.”

It’s true. In fact, both the men’s and women’s sections are divided into fourths: going-out attire and casual clothing greet customers at the front entrance, professional clothing follows, denim is next, and accessories are near the registers all the way in the back. (Smart move. Putting lots of inexpensive merchandise within arm’s reach of customers waiting to check out seems likely to increase impulse buys.)

Ultimately, the new layout is meant to encourage outfit dressing.

“What we’re able to do is present collections, so that when you go into a part, let’s say the party section, there’s the whole thing,” Weiss said. “There’s the top, there’s the bottom.”

The layout doesn’t necessarily take the guesswork out of shopping, but it does make it easier to envision what you want to try on, he added.

Express has been in business for more than 30 years, and Weiss has been at the helm for most of them. He retired in 2004, but returned to the Columbus-based company in 2007 (when Limited Brands sold a 75 percent stake in the retailer to an affiliate of private equity firm Golden Gate Capital Partners) and has remained there since.

“The company was going private and somebody was going to get the opportunity to run this private company, and I thought I should be that person,” Weiss said, smiling.

Weiss’s tenure with Express has given him valuable insight into who its customers are. And they’ve changed− especially since the early ’80s, when the company’s primary shoppers were high schoolers and college students.

When asked why the company began targeting its current demographic (men and women aged 20 to 30), Weiss’s answer was funny and frank: “We felt it was smarter to go after salaries rather than allowances.”

Despite that demographic shift, Weiss contends that Express has managed to remain relevant.

“We have always been on the money in terms of current fashion, and there’s not a whole lot of people in this area of fashion that can claim that,” he said.

Should you decide to check out the new and improved Express, Weiss would probably suggest you also consider buying his two favorites at the moment: the men’s 1MX shirt and the women’s “colored, very tight” Stella jeans.

To learn more about Express, visit ExpressFashion.com.

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