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Macy’s Returns To CE Biz, Albeit Vicariously

Years after abandoning the CE business, Macy’s East is back. Well, sort of.

The division of Federated Department Stores has re-committed to the category at its flagship Herald Square location through a unique leasing arrangement with The Experience At, LLC. The company, founded by former industry rep Ken Sternfeld, seeks to open new channels of distribution for vendors, while offering retailers like Macy’s a stylish and relatively pain-free way to sell CE, cross-merchandised home furnishings and custom installation services within a boutique-like setting.

The result, located in Macy’s celebrated but underutilized Cellar, is a jointly designed 1,850-square-foot in-store A/V shop with displays and home theater vignettes showcasing products by Bose, Infinity, Monster Cable, Philips, Yamaha and others. Two years in the making, the vendor-supported space has a dedicated commissioned sales staff (hired and trained by The Experience, but employed by Macy’s), and carries virtually no inventory aside from personal audio.

Indeed, The Experience uses a proprietary information system that plugs into vendor inventory, and purchases are drop-shipped either by the manufacturer or parent company Atrium Enterprises. Custom installation jobs are outsourced to a national service provider.

Macy’s East will likely base any expansion plans on the shop’s performance this holiday season. Should the concept spread, Macy’s will follow fellow Federated division Bloomingdale’s, which has a systemwide CE presence via high-end PDAs, mobile phones, MP3 players and other high-tech gadgets within it men’s accessories departments.