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Bonobos brings ‘guideshop’ to Minneapolis

UPDATED: NOVEMBER 21, 2016 – 8:24 AM

At Bonobos’ new North Loop showroom, shoppers won’t be walking out with bags in their hands. Instead, they’ll wait for their purchases to arrive at home.

The online men’s clothing brand will open a “guideshop” near Washington & 2nd on Friday. Instead of a traditional store, Bonobos operates showrooms where customers can browse and try on clothes, but they’ll have to actually make their purchases online and get them shipped at no cost. And instead of sales staff who work off of commission, Bonobos’ guides simply take appointments and walk shoppers through the brand’s fits and styles.

“We’re not stylists. We’re not sales associates. We’re here to give you the best customer service experience possible,” said LaToya Lewis, a guideshop manager based in Houston.

Erin Grant, the brand’s public relations manager, likens the experience to a furniture store or an array of similar online retailers, including Warby Parker that also has a presence in the neighborhood, that are opening physical locations for customers to try on their products. Like these companies, Bonobos shoppers will be able to return items at the guideshop.

And there is a lot to try on. Bonobos, which began in 2007 with chinos and has since expanded its offerings to include dress shirts, shoes and casual wear, sells several styles and fits unique to the company.

Chinos, for example, come in washed, stretch washed and flannel-lined styles and come in straight, slim, tailored fits. Bonobos has recently launched an athletic fit for pants and a slightly stretchier Jetsetter fit for suits. The brand also carries odd waist sizes up to 35 so men can find a more exact fit.

“Bonobos is really founded on two main ideals: fit and service. We really are diligent about making sure our service and fit are consistent across all our products. And that rolls into the experience. It’s nice to be a customer coming in and knowing that when you receive that product from a guideshop that’s been ordered you know it’s going to fit. There’s no question about it,” Grant told The Journal.

Photo by Eric Best

The company has a golf apparel brand called Maide by Bonobos and an athletic and recreation line called GoodSport. Bonobos’ women’s line has spun off as a separate entity, dubbed Ayr.

The 1,100-square-foot North Loop guideshop is the company’s 29th location in the country, with a shop opening in Scottsdale, Ariz. on the same day and the next opening in Nashville. It won’t exactly be a Minnesota debut for the brand, which has a select assortment of pants and dress shirts available in Nordstrom stores.

Photo by Eric Best

Bonobos is located in The Washington redevelopment from Falcon Ridge Partners, which is renovating the Sex World building — the well-known adult boutique still operates a space fronting 2nd Avenue — and an adjoining building into creative office, restaurant and retail spaces. The stretch of Washington Avenue is also home to retailers One on One Bicycle Studio and the soon-to-close Kit & Ace. Cycling gear company Chrome Industries closed its store a couple doors down in October and women’s clothing and beauty boutique Roe Wolfe relocated in the spring.

Bonobos at 125 N. Washington Ave. opens Friday, Nov. 18. Its hours will be 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. on Sunday. Customers can schedule appointments online.

Photos by Eric Best

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