By Howard Ruben
- After more than 100 years in business, Radio Flyer is planning to open its first brick-and-mortar store in the Chicago area where the brand is based.
- Set to open in November, the 15,000-square-foot store will be located in the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois, the company told Retail Dive. About 13,000 square feet will be used for retail.
- The store will carry the brand’s complete product assortment, including more than 60 new Radio Flyer items, a Flyer bike shop, service center and a test track inside the mall location for customers to try out the brand’s products.
The decision to open a stand-alone store after 106 years in business was partially prompted by the many Radio Flyer customers who visited the brand’s headquarters in Chicago to test out designs of scooters, wagons, tricycles and bikes in development, Robert Pasin, the brand’s chief wagon officer and grandson of founder Antonio Pasin, told Retail Dive. The customers would often suggest to management that they open a store to the public where they could test out new products.
Radio Flyer considers itself an experiential brand due to the products it makes, Pasin said, adding that opening a store with a testing track and its full range of products at a family-oriented mall in the middle of the holiday season was an easy decision for the company.
“We don’t have to do anything crazy, we just need a space where people can experience our products, because they are physical and experiential,” Pasin said. “So that’s what we are trying to do with this test track.”
“This store is going to serve as a prototype. Assuming that it goes well, our goal is to have stores all over the country, Pasin added.
Aside from its online business, which accounts for 10% of sales, the remaining 90% of revenue comes from the brand’s wholesale partnerships with Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
Radio Flyer today offers a diverse range of over 100 products and accessories, including a stroller tricycle, stroller wagon, scooters and electric bicycles. Included among a variety of items, the brand has a licensing agreement with Tesla and produces a Model S for kids that retails for $499.
Created in 1917 by Italian immigrant Antonio Pasin, Radio Flyer’s first little red wagon was made by hand out of wood. Antonio Pasin introduced the iconic steel version to a global audience at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. That allowed him to mass produce the wagon and earned him the nickname of “Little Ford” according to his grandson Robert.
Today, Radio Flyer has sold over 100 million red wagons and has over a billion wheels on the road.
The retail move by Radio Flyer is similar to a number of DTC brands that have recently opened brick-and-mortar locations in order to meet customers where they are and offer them all the latest products under one roof. Wilson, another iconic brand that’s been around for decades, has also recently started opening stores of its own. The brand, known for its basketballs and tennis racquets, has been ramping up its brick-and-mortar presence by opening stores in such cities as Chicago and New York.