tommy bahama bar

We’ve talked a little about the growing relationship between shopping and drinking, but it’s mostly been in the realm of having a beer in a chic Paris boutique or about how Urban Outfitters applied for a liquor license in Brooklyn (they were denied). This concept seems to be growing in both the way it is implemented and the overall geographical reach.


A recent article from CNBC touched on the way more clothing retailers are branching out into the cocktail scene. This is going beyond a complimentary glass of champagne while you browse at a fancy dress store; this is about the construction of in-store bars that offer alcoholic beverages and small plates of food to refuel during an intense shopping excursion.


Committing to using part of a store for a bar is risky, and some professionals argue that a store would generate more revenue from some extra racks of merchandise rather than a counter and some tables. However, it is also worth noting that bars make more money than the common areas found in some stores where shoppers can rest on a comfortable couch or even watch TV. Having a drink or two can also force shoppers to let their guards down a bit, causing them splurge for that sweater they can’t afford.


You may also end up spending more if your male shopping companion suddenly has a reason to stay in a store, rather than complaining or heading to the nearest mall food cart. It’s like having a babysitter for grown men… we like it.


Some brands are already shopping with cocktails in hand. At the Nordstrom in Seattle’s Bellevue Square, the handcrafted, seasonal cocktails at their lounge Habitant became so popular that they decided to make them available at all locations serving alcohol. Tommy Bahama already has restaurants in 14 stores, but they’re also in the preliminary stages of testing a bar and cafe space. Their flagship store in New York City has a separate bar where shoppers are invited to purchase house-made barrel-aged cocktails.


In the age of online shopping, we think it’s smart for retailers to add bar/restaurant spaces to their stores. By creating an experience that shoppers can’t find online, people will be more likely to pay the stores a visit. As long as there’s a martini waiting for them.