Neighborhood Goods | Q & A with CEO Matt Alexander

Gardenuity is thrilled to announce that we are launching in the revolutionary retail store, Neighborhood Goods.

As part of the launch, we spoke to CEO and co-founder Matt Alexander about Neighborhood Goods, revolutionizing retail, and why he’s chosen to include Dallas based Gardenuity in the storefront.

“Retail today is about experiencing different brands simultaneously. So we are thrilled to be at Neighborhood Goods — a place where, based on the brands being showcased, your experience is different every time you visit. The ambiance is designed to let each brand be a star, and it works. 

With the profound shift in consumer spending towards “experiential” things, Neighborhood Goods gives brands an opportunity to be part of this trend. Matt is forward-thinking, he is a leader in the remarkable retail movement, and he brings a touch of greatness to every project.”

Donna Letier, CEO of Gardenuity

Matt has become a key thinker and developer in the retail space, and we are awed by his drive to include community, stories, and transparency in the industry.

We had the opportunity to ask Matt questions about his journey, Neighborhood Goods, and retail at large.

So, what is Neighborhood Goods?

Neighborhood Goods - A Department Store With A Story
Good brands have a story and Neighborhood Goods is an exceptional storyteller.

You would think this is a simple question, but it’s not. We describe Neighborhood Goods as being somewhat akin to a department store.

It’s similar in aesthetic and design elements…but that’s really where the similarities end.

The business side of it extends in a lot of different ways. We’re focusing on developing communities, hosting events, creating a print magazine, and more. We’re investing in technology and goods to create an entire experience — much beyond simple product-based retail experience.

How did the concept of Neighborhood Goods come about?

I had started a pseudo nonprofit called Unbranded. It’s a pop-up organization that provides free space for entrepreneurs and artists — especially during the holiday season. It’s been a popular way for locals to uncover hidden creativity in Dallas and offer avenues for small artists. My thought was that this ethical use shouldn’t be diluted, but I wanted to continue in retail with this very community-oriented ethos.

So in 2017, I was approached by Neighborhood Goods cofounder, Mark Masinter. He came to me with the question, “What is going to happen next in this industry [retail]?” It turns out the answer I offered, which is the beginnings of Neighborhood Goods, was something he was fond of. He didn’t want to operate anything, but he was excited to help make the vision come to life.

Neighborhood Goods Store

Coming from the United Kingdom, how did you choose to develop Neighborhood Goods in Dallas?

I’ve been in Dallas for about 12 years now. I came over in 2006 to attend SMU [Southern Methodist University]. As I began developing a few local projects in the retail and editorial space, I became truly grounded here.

When we were developing the concept of Neighborhood Goods, we thought about several different markets that we could launch in before we settled on Dallas. The ultimate truth is that Dallas is a remarkably good consumer market, and there are a huge amount of good retail companies that have found their feet here.

Additionally, in terms of cost, it’s effective, and there’s a good culture around brands and the stories around them.

What kinds of things do you curate for your storefront?

Our biggest barrier for entry is whether or not the brand is willing to do something thoughtful or playful with us. You can be a tiny brand or an enormous brand — we’ll have the same conversation with you regardless. It’s important to us that brands show a willingness to look at their interaction with Neighborhood Goods unconventionally.

Additionally, if you’re a young brand that’s eager to learn and coordinate around our space, we find that very compelling. We’re ultimately looking to cultivate a really good experience.

I saw pictures of the space, and it is insanely beautiful. What were you thinking about and prioritizing as you created the storefront?

From the beginning, I was maniacally focused on a few different things. First, it was really important to me to play with the verticality of space.

We have a 14,000 square foot space with ceilings that are 20 feet tall and have beautiful design elements in with the ceiling. In addition, we wanted to make it feel very porous and translucent. So if you stand in a corner of the room, you can see right through to the other which fosters a culture of transparency.

The other thing that was important to me was brand consistency. With Unbranded, brands come in and bring in their own stuff, which can look quite fragmented. I wanted to create a point of sale that was consistent, from browsing to transaction.

Most of all, the overarching focus was trying to develop something that feels very welcoming and positive. Generally, retail spaces can be dark and pretentious, so we wanted to open the space up to community and hospitality. The design is ever evolving, but the main goal is to establish this character and openness.

On your website, it says that you’re “cultivating a philosophy of transparency,” which I find especially interesting. Can you explain this?

Yes! Something I’ve been trying to hammer into our team is a focus on being open and fallible. As a company, it’s very easy to want to give off the sense of being perfect, shiny objects.

With us, there’s a focus on being honest — our mission is broad, so it can be funny when we get it wrong.

Focusing on transparency creates this very welcoming experience from a design experience.

From a culture perspective, it keeps us accountable, honest, and focused on how we’re going to fix it. The sense of fallibility and transparency is very important to our identity as a company.

What is the motivation for starting this in the age of digital e-commerce? Why will it be different than other ‘dying’ retail?

Something you’ll hear from various minds within the business is that retail as a whole isn’t dead — it’s just boring and mundane retail that is. We’ve seen a huge amount of complacency in the retail space. So when e-commerce has quite suddenly become a huge force in the industry, these old retail spaces can’t quite keep up.

The reality is that brands like Warby Parker and Peloton actually generate more revenue from their stores than online. Customers that you capture through a digital store are more expensive to acquire and are less likely to spend money.

Additionally, physical retail still remains relatively difficult to get into. But the general recognition is that people really want to get into physical space. My guess is that 10-15 years from now, physical sales will still account for 70% of transaction for brands.

So how do you serve customers who are hungry for physical spaces, but exhausted by the old retail?

The storefront has become an important lever in how you run a digital brand. Storefronts that tell stories, foster communities, and focus on customer experience tend to be very successful. A lot of people are putting ball pits or whatever to create this, but true experience is about creating a dignified or memorable moment when you buy something physical.

Retail isn’t about products; it’s about customers and stories.

What is your relationship with Gardenuity?

Gardenuity & Neighborhood Goods
Gardenuity is Growing at Neighborhood Goods

We just launched Gardenuity in our Plano store a few weeks ago. Donna [CEO of Gardenuity] was put in touch with us by our architect. Greenery has always been a big focus for our store — it adds a feeling of thoughtfulness and modern living from a design perspective.

Additionally, events and education around products is a focus for the brands we are interested in. We see an opportunity to create educational experiences with Gardenuity, especially as we come into spring. It’s also the kind of product that, as we expand around the country, will stay relevant to customers wherever they are. Ultimately, we were struck by the model for Gardenuity, not to mention the product itself.

We’re so excited to be a part of this ground-breaking retail space. Check out our products at the Legacy West store: 7300 Windrose Ave, Suite A130, Plano, Texas 75024.