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Discount shoe retailer DSW pivots to become . . . a nail salon chain

Discount shoe retailer DSW pivots to become . . . a nail salon chain
[Photo: Element5 Digital/Unsplash]

Today in weird retail news: DSW, your favorite discount shoe mall brand, is fixing to become your favorite nail salon. Soon you’ll be able to pick up last season’s Steve Madden or Sketchers line, then pop over to get your nails painted in a matching shade.

Since 2017, DSW has been piloting in-store nail salons in two Ohio locations through a partnership with W Nail Bar, an Ohio-based company. The company has since introduced W Nail Bars in Austin; Washington, D.C.; and Dublin, Ohio, locations. CNBC reports that it is on track to expand to a total of seven locations, and perhaps even more in the next few years.

It’s another sign of how the retail landscape is transforming. After years of retail closures, as brands like Radio Shack, Wet Seal, and Sears shuttered stores and went bankrupt, retailers are beginning to realize that they must evolve or die. Just this week, we reported about how Foot Locker is essentially becoming a VC firm, since it has funded several up-and-coming startups from kids’ clothier Rockets of Awesome to sneaker resale company Goat Group. Nordstrom and Sephora are tinkering with small-format stores in neighborhoods to create a sense of community and intimacy.

DSW’s nail bars seem a little random given that the company’s main business is shoes. You could perhaps draw some sort of connection between open-toed sandals and pedicures? That’s a bit of a stretch. But in general, it seems like a good idea for companies to be trying out creative new strategies, even if it feels like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing if it sticks. As consumers continue to shop online, they’ll need interesting inducements to go back to stores.

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