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Retail Series Part 2: Touring Chicago’s flagships

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Author: Ryan Emerick

Chicago retail flagshipsIf you were to walk Michigan Avenue—Chicago’s Magnificent Mile—you would notice the unique stores that line the busy street. In comparison to most retail spaces, the stores on Michigan Avenue seem to be bigger, brighter and fancier, with lavish window displays, iconic architecture, cutting-edge technology and specialty restaurants.

“The flagship store is an entirely different experience compared to a mall or store in the suburbs,” says James Cook, JLL Americas Director of Research, Retail. The term “flagship” refers to the lead ship in a fleet. Often set in a prime urban location like the Magnificent Mile, a flagship store is considered to be the leader in its fleet of stores—a showcase of the very best the brand has to offer.

JLL Retail Research recently analyzed the features of 145 flagship stores across four U.S. markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. They identified specific characteristics that set flagship stores apart from fleet stores and differences between flagship stores across retail categories: luxury and luxury lite, high to middle priced, low priced and discount and other.

I toured six Chicago flagship stores—Restoration Hardware, Uniqlo, Ralph Lauren, AT&T, Burberry and Under Armour—to determine if there were marked differences in flagship stores of different cities. More specifically, to find out: what sets the Chicago flagship stores apart from those in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco?

Restoration Hardware – 1300 N. Dearborn Pkwy

Chicago retail flagships

As I climbed out of the taxi I thought the driver took me to the wrong address. Stately mansions lined the quiet, leafy street populated by schoolchildren and elderly couples with dogs. Compared to its neighbors the only conspicuous feature of the Restoration Hardware flagship store was the two valet attendants out front. Otherwise, the store could pass for a home.… Read More