Where Millennials Are Moving, And How Retailers Are Responding

We talked to retailers from some of the top cities Millennials are moving to. Here's what they said about how they cater to the cohort. 

Katie Caron
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(Photo: Pexels user Nout Gons)

When you think about the cities that Millennials are congregating in, hubs like New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. likely come to mind. But according to research from real estate analytics firm RCLCO, many of the cities seeing the most relative growth in Millennial populations are not what you’d expect. 

RCLCO ranked the top 25 cities Millennials are moving to by percent-change from 2010-2015. We spoke with retailers from some of these locales to find out if they’re noticing the increase and how they’re catering to this younger demographic. 

#1 Norfolk, VA: Exotic Home

Furniture store Exotic Home sells furniture, accessories, upholstery and antiques out of its locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA. Manager Erica Maddox says the company has absolutely noticed an uptick in younger customers who are often looking for Mid-Century Modern furnishings and Pinterest-worthy items. 

To keep items accessible, Exotic Home offers a layaway financing option that allows customers to reserve items with a small deposit. The payments can be made on the customer’s own schedule, free of interest. 

Since Millennials want to buy furniture that’s going to last them but don’t always have the money to do so, Maddox says the layaway program and frequent markdowns on products help keep the furniture affordable.

#2 Richmond, VA: LaDIFF

Home furnishings store LaDIFF offers contemporary furnishings and home accessories out of its three-story showroom nestled in downtown Richmond, VA. President Sarah Paxton says given the young creative types living in the area, she sees quite a few Millennials coming in who have done their research and saved up for a special purchase like a quality sofa or bed. 

About five years ago, LaDIFF added a new gallery called LaDEALS for both Millennials and older customers alike. Set on the third floor of the showroom, the LaDEALS gallery features apartment-style vignettes where the majority of the items are at entry-level price points. 

To reach more 25- to 35-year-olds online, the business ramped up its digital advertising and built a new, mobile-friendly website. While products are available online for browsing, the store doesn’t run an e-commerce operation and encourages people to visit the showroom

“We believe that part of our responsibility with younger customers is to teach them about the individuality and options available to them with custom orders,” Paxton says. “We are also letting them know of the value of working with a locally owned company: service, community support, etc.”

#5 New Orleans, LA: Perch

Upscale home furnishings and design boutique Perch is located on bustling Magazine Street in New Orleans. With Tulane University and Loyola University nearby, owner Caroline Robert says she often sees younger customers stopping through, often with their parents, as well as tourists from all over the world looking for a unique item they can take home to remember their travels.

Robert’s Millennial customers have a love for couture items, and even if they can’t afford to buy many of them at the moment, they’re definitely thinking about it.

Robert will show visitors how they can incorporate high-end items into their spaces piece by piece.

Robert has also noticed the current trend of mixing high and low — visitors might combine quality items they find at Perch with other pieces from Target or West Elm.

“They seem interested in not the mass-produced stuff but things that have a story,” she says. “They’re drawn to a lot of the vintage items that we carry, like old record players and things like that.”

While Perch has its own defined, out-of- the-box aesthetic that isn’t necessarily married to trends, Robert makes sure to get input from her Millennial employees when she’s on the hunt for products at market.

#6 Austin, TX: The Khazana

The Khazana Home Furnishings sells an eclectic array of furniture, decor and lighting out of its family-owned showroom. Manager Chaese Strelz says he’s seen a significant increase in the amount of customers from the age of 20-32 over the past few years, mainly stemming from the startup and tech boom in the city. 

Strelz says generally he doesn’t notice a vast difference in how Millennial customers shop other than the fact that they tend to make their purchases online or over the phone. 

While the business isn’t necessarily trying to tailor its offerings specifically to entice Millennials, Strelz says the cohort definitely impacts its core product lineup as it becomes a larger portion of the clientele. 

Though certain styles — Mid-Century Modern, bohemian and vintage — perform strongly with Millennial customers, Strelz says the showroom doesn’t play into stereotypes of what Millennials want and instead focuses on offering a strong range of products and welcoming feedback.                                     

“We have this gimmicky idea of what Millennials are going to look like and how they’re going to act and that they’re all going to be hipsters,” Strelz says, “and while they might pick and choose certain elements of that style and lifestyle, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket.”

Top 10 Cities Where Millennials Are Moving

1.   Virgina Beach-Norfolk-NewPort News, VA-NC
2.   Richmond, VA 
3    Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 
4.   Memphis, TN 
5.   New Orleans-Metairie, LA 
6.   Austin-Round Rock, TX 
7.   Pittsburgh, PA 
8.   Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 
9.   Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 
10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

*Data from RCLCO



Photo: Pexels user Nout Gons

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