Container Store goes after $10 billion dorm market with Dormify shops

June 23, 2023

The demise of Bed Bath & Beyond left a big chunk of the $10 billion dorm room furnishings market up for grabs. The Container Store wants to capture some of that spending through an innovative partnership with social-media savvy online retailer Dormify, reports Forbes.

This week, The Container Store unveiled Dormify shops in five of its stores, and Dormify displays in an additional 35 stores. It also is selling more than 90 Dormify products on its e-commerce site.

Dormify—which started as a dorm-decorating blog and began selling dorm bedding and decor merchandise online in 2011—has a strong social media presence, with #dormify videos drawing 44 million views on TikTok.

Dorm and college apartment furnishings accounted for $10 billion of the $74 billion American parents spent on back-to-college expenses in 2022, according to the National Retail Federation—making it a prime sales opportunity for retailers.

Bed Bath & Beyond, which is in the process of liquidating and closing its stores after declaring bankruptcy, considered the back-to-college season as its biggest sales driver of the year, and worked hard to court new college students, and their parents. With its large number of stores ,it could enable parents and students to pick out everything they needed for their dorm at their local store—and then pick up the items at the store closest to their college.

The Container Store always had a niche in the back-to-college space, as the place to stock up on storage bins and other storage solutions, organization tools, and closet accessories. The Dormify partnership allows it to expand its offerings to include bedding and dorm room decor items.

In addition to the Dormify products, The Container Store this year has added small appliances, such as fans and personal blenders, to its back-to-college mix in an effort to become more of a one-stop college shopping destination.

“For us, the collaboration with Dormify really helps us complete that full basket, in the sense of adding on-trend bedding, and some of the really fun decor they have that is not in our wheelhouse per se,” said Stacey Shively Chief Merchandising Officer of The Container Store said in an interview.

The Container Store began collaborating with Dormify last year with displays that referred shoppers to Dormify’s online offer. Now, shoppers can buy items directly from five The Container Stores with the full Dormify in-store shops, with the items in-stock in those stores.

Part of the goal for The Container Store is to draw more Gen Z shoppers into its stores, as they are setting up what, in effect, is their first apartment—their dorm rooms – and win them over as long-time customers for all of their future homes.

“We view it as a really nice entry point for all of our product categories,” Shively said.

For Dormify, The Container Store collaboration also is a way to reach new customers—the parents of the Gen Z students who are watching Dormify’s Tik Tok videos and Pinterest posts.

“The dorm room shopping experience is very much a collaborative experience between the parent and the student, so that makes for a great marriage between our brands,” said Dormify Co-founder and President Amanda Zuckerman said in an interview.

“The parent is already shopping at The Container Store, so it’s a way to get in front of the parent,” Zuckerman said.

The five Container Stores where the Dormify in-store shops are located—in New York City, Austin, Houston, Nashville, and Costa Mesa—were chosen for their proximity to college campuses where students might opt to buy online and pick up in those stores when they arrive on campuses, or where they might shop for last minute dorm items.

Dormify will be deploying brand ambassadors in those markets to share tips on dorm essentials, and move-in and shopping advice. Dormify and The Container Store are hosting a giveaway on Instagram and The Container Store is offering college students and their parents a 25% off discount that they can access through September 4.

Research contact: @Forbes