What am I supposed to do here?

Some retail stores, like Abercrombie and Fitch’s new concept, Ruehl 925, are challenging the traditional store entrance. Ruehl’s storefront, shown here at the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, is built to look like a Greenwich Village brick apartment building.

It has a very “closed” feeling. Where is the door? Am I supposed to go in?
The windows are all shuttered.

A small address plaque like you would find on an apartment is the only sign to the left of the door. Notice that its number is 923.

A small awning does have the name on it, but it’s not near the door. This is numbered 921.

While this does give them a unique look, it’s not very welcoming. It’s hard to know if you should go in or not, and the dark interior (it’s like entering a loft apartment with a party going on) does not welcome. It’s hard to see the clothes and the overall effect is intimidating, like I am crashing their party and don’t belong. I don’t fit their demographic, so maybe it will be a success. I’ll be curious to see if this store does well.

Tip of the day: While a clever concept, well-executed, can set up a great experience, an overdesigned one might backfire. You want customers to feel comfortable and welcomed.

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