Jeff Raider, cofounder of Warby Parker, understands the importance of branding to successfully selling affordable eyeglasses to the masses, first online, then as a brick-and-mortar retail chain. So perhaps it's no surprise that he's applying the same level of detail to his second company, a shaving business called Harry's, whose first storefront, the Corner Shop, was built around two reclaimed, 1920s-era barbershop chairs, complete with vintage leather strops and all. Raider and his cofounder, Andy Katz-Mayfield, looked for months before finally lucking out and finding the restored pieces in West Hempstead, New York. Only then could construction begin in New York’s Soho neighborhood.
If that seems cart-before-the-horse, consider that Harry’s, like its sibling company Warby Parker, launched as an e-commerce-only brand intent on disrupting the shaving industry’s inflated prices and cheap-drugstore identity. "Our website is our flagship store," Raider tells Co.Design. Its offline outpost supports the online store by supplying more textured experiences. "It’s about the art of barbering," Raider says. "We give you the best quality product, but then we leave you hanging in front of the mirror." Coming into the the Corner Store—even just as an occasional treat—can be "a great way to be better and better at shaving." The big idea, according to Raider, is to own the experience from start to finish.
The Corner Shop mirrors the Harry’s flagship store (i.e., the website) in every possible way: The white and navy color scheme of its elegantly restrained packaging is found on the reupholstered chairs and mirrored in the tile floor. New York-based Partners & Spade and Brookyn-based Fort Standard designed and built the store’s interiors (both are responsible for designing the Warby Parker flagship store as well), and the final product is what Raider calls a "modern neighborhood barber" that falls somewhere between the standard barbershop and the steampunk Tommy Guns shops in New York.
Beyond the haircuts and the shaves, The Corner Shop is a mini-emporium for locally designed goods like Sleepy Jones pajamas, Public Supply notebooks, and Fort Standard bottle openers. Besides playing a part in a growing symbiotic network for small New York businesses (Sleepy Jones carries Harry’s at its store; Fort Standard built Harry's cabinets), Harry’s is dedicated to curating a lifestyle filled with brands that feel more thoughtful than a Gillette razor locked behind a plastic partition. "We can be a credible source for guys on grooming," Raider says. "When we saw the Trusco toolbox, we said, ‘Our guy should have that toolbox!’ " Or with Sleepy Jones, "it’s the idea of an amazing morning where you get up and shave."
The Corner Store opens on Tuesday at 64 MacDougal Street in New York City.