West Elm has incorporated this understanding into their stores, which are purposefully designed to look like “artisan” spaces, filled with items from Etsy sellers, in stark contrast to the chain and mall stores of the past. When Jim Brett took over as president in 2010, he “liberated” designers from their brown-box, boring aesthetic and “pushed toward a more global and feminine aesthetic, often using reclaimed and FSC-certified woods to create signature ‘statement’ pieces.” He moved to make the brick-and-mortar stores into statement showrooms with “distinct personalities that are operated by real human beings.” He told salespeople to “think of themselves as old-fashioned merchants,” added actual Etsy sellers and items to the sales floor and the catalog, put in coffee shops and hosted cooking classes.
Demographics bear this out: 30% of those between the ages of 20 and 29 will now spend time abroad; less than 60% of Americans now live in the same state they were born in. That may seem like a lot, but according to US Census Data, it was almost 70% in 1950. General mobility is up, in part because the time between graduation from high school or college and “settling down” is expanding: The average age of marriage has risen to 27 for women and 29 for men (in 1990, it was 23 for women and 26 for men in 1990), and the average age of motherhood has risen from 24.9 (1990) to 26.3; the average age to purchase a house has risen to age 33.
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