Who would have thunk that hanging out in a kitchen and bath appliance store could replicate the Starbucks experience for coffee aficionados and Apple for computer lovers? Well, thunk again. Pirch, as in perching, or sort of feathering your nest in a totally fun and interactive experience, is the reason consumers will flock (pun intended) to Pirch as a “third place” to hang (work, home and Pirch). Just as Starbuck’s and Apple disrupted how coffee and computers were sold and consumed, Pirch is disrupting the appliance world with a fundamentally new and co-created experiential model.
Founded in 2009 on the vision of its CEO, Jeffrey Sears, and Chairman, Jim Stuart, their goal was to make shopping for kitchen and bath appliances “inspirational and joyful.” Originally named Fixtures Living, it was changed to Pirch in 2013, meant to more accurately suggest a perch or nest. “Perching is like feathering your nest, roosting at home. It’s a feel-good name,” said Sears in a PRNewswire article.
Upscale and luxury kitchen and bath appliances and fixtures are spread throughout some 20,000 to 40,000 square feet (depending on location), in a beautifully designed, modern showroom-like store (sleek and inviting like Apple). After being greeted at the door by Pirch’s “baristas of joy” at the Bliss Cafe (hmmm…sounds a little like Starbuck’s), offering a cup of latte, or customized espresso drink from their $10,000 Italian espresso maker, the customer is connected with a trained expert-associate who guides them through vignettes of working kitchens and bathrooms (live cooktops and grills, ovens, refrigerators and working showers, sinks and baths), in which customers can literally experiment with and “test drive” the products.
“Try before you buy” is encouraged by Pirch. Best of class brands are curated from around the world. Brands such as Fisher & Paykel, Miele, Franke, La Cornue, Toto and Sub-Zero, are all displayed in warm, inviting settings, compelling customers to try them out. Test an aromatherapy shower (privately of course by reservation in what they call the “Sanctuary”), and test the water pressure from various shower heads or soak in a tub carved from Carrara marble. Attend cooking classes where chefs will demonstrate how to operate a $100,000 Molteni range and cook up sumptuous recipes for your tasting delight. Or, cook your own favorite meal. Or, ladies, check out the ladies room, where you can test drive a Kohler toilet with an adjustable seat temperature.
The entire experience is “an endless journey of inspired living. From design ideas to culinary instruction, the PIRCH experience is best described as magical.” And it compels customers to focus on what they want to do, rather than what they want to buy, which makes the ultimate purchase that much more rewarding. Pirch’s expert staff controls and manages the entire holistic process, including delivery, installation and service, as opposed to third parties.
CEO, Jeffrey Sears, was named “Disruptor of the Year” by the NRF (National Retail Federation) and one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2014” by Goldman Sachs. Pirch was awarded “Retail Store of the Year” (2014), by Chain Store Age, was listed 25th in Forbes’ 2015 list of “America’s 100 Most Promising Companies,” was recipient of the 2014 Grand Prize from A.R.E. (Association for Retail Environments), and was included in House Beautiful magazine’s 2014 “Most Amazing” list.
Sears was quoted in a PRNewswire article: “Our company was born from empathy and frustration. We asked, ‘how is it that the very products adorning our homes and serving as backdrops to priceless memories, are presented in such an uninspiring manner?’ So, we decided to do something about that.” He went on to say, “Pirch is delivering a retail experience that encourages guests to dream about, play with, and ultimately choose products that will improve their lives at home. The products we carry are integral to creating inspired moments, and we believe that the process of selecting them should be just as inspiring.”
Pirch showrooms are located in San Diego, Costa Mesa, Glendale and Rancho Mirage California, Dallas Texas, Chicago Illinois and Atlanta Georgia, and its eighth location just opened in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus New Jersey, (next to Gucci, Neiman Marcus and Tiffany), with a store planned for Manhattan’s SoHo in 2016.
CEO Sears states his manifesto as: “One part Passion, One part Conviction, One part Macaroni and Cheese.”
And, guess what? This business model is not some high-tech, app-driven, sexy Silicon Valley startup, running on fumes and fund-raising. And it’s not brain surgery. Pirch has simply created a wonderfully designed setting within which it has placed wonderfully designed products, which can be played with and learned about from experts, before deciding to buy.
Indeed, add Pirch to Apple and Starbucks as pioneers in their respective spaces.