Published June 26, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
As Tesla continues to add to its yet-limited retail network, it has hired maverick marketers – including George Blankenship, head of sales and “ownership experience” – who are adept at reinventing non-automotive ways of sales and merchandizing.
Maybe you’ve caught wind of this ongoing story already? If so, you may not be surprised to learn one of several exclusive new retail spots due to open mid-November following a $185 million expansion at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre will be Canada’s first Tesla dealership.
Sharing proverbial elbow room with the car dealer will include such trendy brands as Ted Baker London, kate spade new york, Diesel, Wilfred Boutique, the North Face, an exclusive Rolex boutique at Raffi Jewelers, and others. A perfect fit, right?
Tesla is a new kind of car, and its maker wants to prove its unorthodox way of marketing them is improved as well. If the company hits on stride with today’s demographic trends, we may be looking back in a couple years and saying its insights were nigh to genius – as fans are already saying even before all proof comes in.
At least that is Tesla’s implicit hope, and it’s clear where the company wants to take things, as evidenced in part by an excerpt from George Blankenship’s official bio:
As Apple's Vice President of Real Estate, George created one of the most successful, brand-bolstering retail growth plans in history. Taking what he calls a "Smart Growth HitList" approach to international markets, he spread Apple’s influence across Asia, Europe and North America. Apple's retail savvy was repeatedly praised by Fortune Magazine, among others. His global growth experience is especially applicable as Tesla continues to open new, innovative stores around the world.
To be sure, Blankenship has been set free to play to his strengths, and with his re-shifted focus on creatively proliferating the nifty new electric cars made in Fremont, Calif., it all stands to potentially become an encore to his previous successes, as Tesla offers its full blessing.
“At Tesla, George's goal is to re-imagine the way people buy cars, forgoing the traditional dealership model in favor of stylish, consumer-focused showrooms,” says Tesla.
So here’s a quick pop quiz for you: What do Tesla Motors and Ann Taylor have in common?
Right, you guessed it. Both are among those retailers entering the Canadian market with flagship stores in Yorkdale’s new expansion.
Other notable new stores include Ta-ze and Joey Restaurants, Holt Renfrew, Lacoste and Club Monaco which will have refurbished and larger locations within the expansion. LOFT will open in an existing space in late 2012.
Yorkdale’s retail expansion is the second of two major developments in 2012, which together will create an additional 190,000 total square feet in the shopping centre at a total cost of $220 million. Yorkdale’s new food court, Dine on 3, launched in June 2012 and accounts for 45,000 square feet of the overall expansion and features restaurants and a new dining area with skylights, fireplaces and an outdoor terrace.
The retail expansion in November will also add a new valet area and 800 underground parking spaces to Yorkdale for a total of 7,400 parking spaces in addition to transit (TTC) access. As a part of the expansion, Yorkdale will feature the same sustainable technologies that are implemented in the existing shopping centre including a green roof, which will make Yorkdale eligible for silver certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).