Cover Story

Shop Talk: West County Center

Once, we took our cues from plastic ladies with staring eyes and long limbs not seen in nature. Mannequins told us what to wear, and what to pair it with. It’s different now. These days, shopping trips often begin with research done from home on little screens. “Is there nothing they haven’t touched?” asks Sean Phillips, talking about the ways smartphones have altered the way we do things. Phillips is both a fashion blogger and regional marketing director for West County Center and says he knows all about how our devices have changed the way we shop. “A trip to the mall is not what it was once,” he says.

obc-cbl-no-box-9For one thing, it involves more walking. “We don’t shop in a single store for an outfit,” Phillips says. “We move from place to place–a top from here, a skirt from there. Now, where to buy those shoes?” Often, he says, shoppers consult their phones as they go–tapping for coupons, swiping for on-the-spot ideas. “Your smartphone is your shopping friend. It helps you pick out the perfect item,” he says.

Certain stores at West County Center have jumped enthusiastically onto the tech bandwagon and offer shoppers nifty ways to personalize their experience. At Sephora, for instance, in-store computers help track down a favorite scent or a foundation that exactly matches a person’s skin tone. “We take pictures of your face on a special device and type the information into an iPad,” explains Brooke Tweedy, Sephora’s West County color specialist. “It gives you lipstick and concealer suggestions as well.”

She says another service—Fragrance I.Q.—comes up with perfume ideas based on desired mood and past preferences. “Do you want to feel playful? Chic? Warm and spicy? What scents have you liked in the past, and what might be similar?” she asks. The results of a skincare quiz point shoppers toward specific products and suggest suitable regimens. All these analyses can be uploaded onto a phone by way of a Sephora app and perused at leisure from home. “This interactive buying experience is fun!” Tweedy says. “It gives people a reason to come to the mall.”

At the very least, Phillips says, a simple blog post, Facebook page or store email can make shopping more individualized and intentional. “Where once magazines were our bibles, circulations are down and giants like Vogue and Elle are reaching followers via media channels,” he explains.

Outside of fashion, other stores at the center are catching on to innovative ways to lure buyers. Phillips says the LEGO Store now features a ‘digital box’ that shoppers use to see actual-size, 3D holograms of the set they wish to purchase.

Phillips is quick to note that West County Center, like other successful shopping destinations around the country, keeps on top of tech trends and adapts to them. “We recognize that shopping is a journey and an interactive experience,” he says. “Our motto at West County Center is ‘Make it yours.’ We understand today’s consumer and help them tailor their experience to meet their every need. It’s very exciting.”

Pictured: Evereve at West County Center
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured on the cover: Kim Froehlich wears fall fashions by Evereve; Alijah Harrison wears Banana Republic. Make-up by Sephora. Models supplied by Mother Model Management. Located at I-270 and Manchester Road, West County Center stores offer the latest in fall fashions. For more information, visit westcountycenter.com.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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