Like most anxiety-inducing things, going into C. Wonder was not as bad as I’d made it out to be in my head. Though, to be honest, I got the feeling the employees may have been pre-instructed not to sing or dance in my presence. Regardless, Burch was very nice and enthusiastic and came equipped with C. Wonder’s very knowledgeable and charismatic VP of Merchandising, Jon Zeiders.
Granted it was not a weekend, but the store was bright and airy and had an overall positive, not too overwhelming vibe. The employees didn’t seem aggressive and offered me lemonade and chocolate (again, not sure if Chris Burch being there had anything to do with that). The music was loud but not too loud, which ties into what is easily the coolest part of the store and maybe any store ever: In each roomy dressing room, there’s a little console where you can change the music, adjust the volume (or turn it off), adjust the lighting (to be more flattering), and call on a sales associate. It’s genius. They also offer mobile checkout so you don’t have to wait in line to pay. We keep hearing retail is all about “creating a shopping experience” these days and C. Wonder is a good example of that.
Zeiders mentioned the phrase “afforable luxury” a few times, pulling out jewelry and small leather goods made with quality materials that would cost twice as much with a more recognizable, high-end logo. Meaning, yes, some of their products do look a tad familiar, but at least they’re classic, decent quality and not overpriced?
I found many of the products, especially those not emblazoned with a huge “C” (or letters of your choice–they’re big on personalization) cute and timeless in a neighborhood full of overly trendy things that can fall apart even before they go out of style. I also can’t think of a better place to go when you need to buy someone a gift but have no idea what to get them. Chances are, it’s there.
That’s their other thing–they have everything from stationary to electronics to clothes. They even have customizable bikes and a floral Vespa scooter sitting right there in the store that had recently made the pages of Vogue. “It’s Anna Wintour-approved,” Zeiders said. As we walked through the store, Burch pointed out a few things he would buy, some of which he didn’t even know they had.
“We’re trying to change the way people think about retail,” he said. “We don’t want to be like everybody else.” That’s something C. Wonder has come under fire for since it launched. Most notably for resembling Tory Burch, which he launched with his now ex-wife Tory. That’s why, he says, “of course they’re going to compare us to that.”