We Tried It: Shopping at Easton’s New Amazon Style Store
The online retail behemoth recently chose Columbus as the location for its second brick-and-mortar fashion store, complete with magic fitting rooms. We decided to check it out.
I don’t want to like the new Amazon Style store. I already harbor guilt over my family’s frequent use of Amazon.com rather than brick-and-mortar retailers. So the thought of venturing outside the house to potentially give Amazon founder and Dr. Evil lookalike Jeff Bezos even more of my money is about as enticing as cutting a check to the IRS.
Unfortunately, the experience is kind of fun.
Amazon Style, which opened at Easton Town Center in October and is only the second such store in the country (California got the first one), is a different kind of fashion retailer. Upon entering, an employee gives me the rundown: All the products on the showroom floor are display items featuring unique QR codes that shoppers can scan with their phones. Links open in the Amazon app or a browser, which displays the item’s available colors and sizes. After making a selection, you can send it to the pickup counter or a fitting room. And if the right size isn’t available in-store, never fear; Amazon just so happens to have an online store.
In a bright, high-ceilinged space dominated by stark white and teeming with employees, Amazon Style features a range of brands, including Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Volcom, Columbia Sportswear, Lucky and its own brands: Amazon Essentials—a no-frills, budget-friendly collection (think $14 flannel shirts)—and Amazon Aware, a mid-range line so named for its professed eco-friendly focus. The store also carries “premium” fashion brands like Vince (think $160 flannels), John Varvatos, Joie, Theory and others.
Amazon Style boasts 36 fitting rooms—the most interesting part of the experience. I want to try on three items, and within minutes, my phone directs me to room 24, which I also unlock with my phone. Inside, I find the clothes I requested, along with a few suggested items. A large touchscreen shows me other personalized picks; in the row of “just for you” items, I see some jeans that are cheaper than the ones I picked out, so I request them. A few minutes later, a red light appears, indicating the double-sided closet inside my dressing room is locked. When the light disappears, I open the closet. Like magic, there are the jeans.
I wear a hooded sweatshirt on this outing, and Amazon Style suggests a similar Goodthreads hoodie. I end up buying that item, because one can never have too many hoodies. Later, I find out Goodthreads is an Amazon brand. Got me again, Bezos!
Afterward, I decide to compare this high-tech store with a typical clothing retailer. And so, as middle-aged white guys often do, I walk to Gap, where I find similar white walls, fewer employees and fitting rooms with old-fashioned deadbolts. The QR codes are gone, but I manage to find a couple of things that fit well. Turns out shopping without a phone is still possible.
This story is from the January 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.