Barneys: Madison Avenue vs Chelsea


Recently I came across a reflection I wrote whilst studying in Manhattan. It compaired the Barneys in the Upper East Side to the Barney’s down in Chelsea. I found the differences to be quite fascinating and worth sharing with all of you. For those who have been to both stores, the difference in the atmosphere is rather interesting.

Barneys, Uptown vs Downtown

Barneys is a multi brand high end retailer in New York City. Barneys has two locations; these being the original on Madison Avenue and downtown in Chelsea. Though they are both the same store, the atmosphere is very different in each shop.

The Barneys on Madison Avenue is very glamorous. When you first enter the shop you are serenaded by an array of fragrances and hundreds of handbags catch your eye. As you walk around the main floor, you can see handbag after handbag with hints of sparkling jewelry thrown in between. To the average customer this may come across as overwhelming. The majority of the handbags are placed on glass shelves (that do fall down and shatter on occasion). Though the sight is aesthetically pleasing, the bags do blend in with their surroundings. On the main floor, warm sophisticated tones are used on the walls and the floors are dark tile. The shoe department resembles any other shoe department from a high end shop. The shoes are displayed on tables, not shelves or racks. There is also elegant grey seating placed accordingly so customers can sit while trying on shoes. On the floors where clothing is sold the setup is very simple. All the clothes are displayed in a very neat manner. The display of clothing primarily gives of a monochromatic vibe. Most of the colors tend to be on the darker side. Though the staff is not rude or unhelpful, they aren’t very friendly. In general, the Upper East Side tends to give off an exclusive vibe, therefore the uptown Barneys does the same. Each department is separate and closed off from one another. Even the restaurant is hidden behind closed glass doors to give off an exclusive feel. It is clear that the Barney’s on Madison Avenue is geared towards the stereotypical Upper East Side consumer. These customers tend to be older, on the conservative side, and sophisticated. Since the Upper East Side is known as an expensive and exclusive place to live, the people who shop on the Upper East Side expect that kind of atmosphere. Therefore Barneys on Madison Avenue caters to their needs.

On the other hand, the Barneys in Chelsea is rather different. The vibe there is more laid back, inclusive, and artsy opposed to the classy and exclusive environment of the Madison Avenue location. The entrance to the Chelsea Barney’s is not as grand and overwhelming. The set up is minimalistic with white walls and handbags displayed not in clusters. This way the customers can clearly see each handbag without looking at many bags at once. To a young customer, this is more appealing because they can choose quickly and the setup is more artistic. The young customers are also less conservative than the older ones so they are more drawn to color and embellishments. While I was at the uptown Barneys, I noticed a simple elephant bag. Downtown they sold the same bag but with piercings and gages. That would only be appealing to a young customer. Also at the downtown Barneys, the clothes tend to be a lot more colorful and some are even sports themed. Since Chelsea tends to be an artsy neighborhood in Manhattan, Chelsea shoppers want an artistic experience. Therefore the shop is set up to their needs. Even the furniture has an artistic set up. The same elegant grey tufted chairs are used, however they are set up in abstract clusters. This gives off an inclusive vibe where customers can all sit together unlike the setup at the uptown Barneys were each seat is separate. Along with the uptown Barneys, the downtown Barneys has a restaurant as well. However, unlike the other, this restaurant has an open setting giving off an inclusive vibe. Not only is the physical set up more inclusive, the attitude is too. The staff members at the Chelsea Barneys are a lot friendlier. They are always welcoming and are willing to help any customer no matter their class/status. The downtown Barneys is far more inclusive than the uptown Barneys because the majority of downtown shoppers are younger and prefer that kind of environment. In a Ted Ed that we previously watched in class, we learned that millennials prefer inclusivity while generation x members prefer exclusivity. Younger customers are also searching for an an avant garde atmosphere as well. Therefore the downtown Barneys caters to their needs.

Back to the present

Though I find both Barneys to be rather exquisite, I have to say that I am a little biased to the Upper East Side so the Barneys on Madison Avenue is the winner for me. By the way…I earned a 100 on this assignment.

Shine on ~xoxo Dana


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