“Bicks” and Mortar

By Janet Groeber

Photos by Joe Cereghino Photography


Jenni and Robby Bick are writing the next chapter of Jenni Bick Custom Journals, their online business.

As jennibick.com, they sell paper journals crafted in their Martha’s Vineyard workshop. Their line of handmade, leather-bound journals and albums made one at a time (since 1990), beg to be touched. And in January, Jenni Bick fans got their chance to do just that at the company’s first-ever flagship store in Washington, D.C.

The Bicks partnered with Bethesda, Md.-based GTM Architects for assistance on their first store’s design. Clare Marino, a GTM partner, and her team sought to create a space that was open and easy to navigate. The new store is warm and inviting, thanks to rich product presented on wooden shelves against hardwood floors and light walls. “The design reflects the simplicity and ease of Jenni Bick’s online shopping experience,” Marino says. Freestanding tables offer flexibility in highlighting seasonal goods. Add to that readymade branded journals (Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917 and Paperblanks), single cards and card box sets, markers and, of course, pens, and you have everything for modern day scribes.

Online and now in-store, the Bicks inject a piece of their own personality—be it through a vintage industrial metal stool or rough aged timbers. “We’re trying to integrate the props and other found objects that we use in styling our product photos into the store,” Robby Bick notes. Storytelling and tactility complete the décor narrative.

But how to further translate the essence of Jenni Bick? “Personalization has been the key to our success online,” Robby Bick says, speaking of myriad custom options available in the new store. It’s the reason the embossing machine has its own station, where staffers work directly with patrons to select fonts and text. Then they sit back and watch the embossing process before leaving with a custom creation.

To complete a sale in-store, the Bicks transact via tablet. They stuck with their existing e-commerce platform, adding a POS system since “all the data was already there,” Robby Bick says. “And all the information on our websites is immediately available to our staff and customers.” On the floor, two Macs are open to the Jenni Bick websites for corporate and branding services, as well.

Just another exciting new tale in “bicks”-and-mortar retail.

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