Allbirds is landing in Seattle.
The high-flying billion-dollar sneaker startup is set to open its fourth brick-and-mortar retail location in Seattle’s University Village shopping plaza.
Allbirds logos and an “opening soon” tagline adorn the outside of a space previously occupied by Starbucks-owned Teavana, which is in the process of closing all of its stores due to underperformance.
Taking its place is Allbirds, the San Francisco-based startup and maker of simple wool shoes that is now valued at $1.4 billion after a recent $50 million Series C investment.
Allbirds representatives declined to share details about the store and an official opening date when contacted by GeekWire.
Allbirds is a well-known and well-worn brand in Silicon Valley, where tech big shots such as Google co-founder Larry Page, former Twitter chief Dick Costolo and venture capitalist Mary Meeker have been spotted wearing the shoes. A profile in The New York Times from August 2017 described the shoes as “Silicon Valley’s cobblers.”
The trendy and environmentally-friendly kicks, which come in a few variations and are priced around $100, have even caught the attention of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Leonardo Dicaprio, who is also an investor in the company.
Maveron, the Seattle-based consumer venture capital firm founded by Howard Schultz and Dan Levitan, is an Allbirds backer, as is Mark Vadon, founder of Seattle-based companies such as Blue Nile and Zulily, according to Crunchbase.
Axios reported that Allbirds was profitable in 2016 and 2017, with $150 million in revenue expected for 2018.
Allbirds has built a giant business over the past three years using a direct-to-consumer online model. It expanded with brick-and-mortar locations in San Francisco, London, and New York, where it opened a 4,800 square-foot store this past September. The company plans to open several new stores across the U.S. this year, CNBC reported in September.
Allbirds was co-founded by Tim Brown, a former professional soccer player from New Zealand, and Joey Zwillinger, a biotech engineer. Speaking on a recent panel at NRF’s Big Show, Brown said the physical retail strategy is a big part of Allbirds’ growth plans.
“I think people want to try on shoes … physical retail was just a no-brainer,” he said, according to a Retail Dive report. “I think what we found is that it’s the best marketing dollars we can spend.”
Direct-to-consumer online startups such as Bonobos (menswear), Warby Parker (glasses), Casper (mattresses), and others have followed a similar strategy of opening physical stores to help support their larger online businesses. At the same time, traditional retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and Gap are trimming their brick-and-mortar footprint.
Bonobos, acquired by Walmart for $310 million in 2017, also has a brick-and-mortar location at University Village, where other companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, b8ta, Verizon, and AT&T have a presence.