SaksWorks: Inside Hudson Bay Company’s new social club

Even before the pandemic started, major retailers with spacious department stores were rethinking their floor plans amid climbing real estate prices and consumers’ increasing dependence on online shopping. With the onset of the pandemic and limitations on going out, let alone shopping in stores, retailers needed to get creative.

While the future of coworking spaces is in flux as well, social clubs—in one form or another—have existed virtually forever. And that’s how Hudson’s Bay Co., the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, describes its latest venture, SaksWorks—as a social club inspired by the famous department store and as its sister brand.

This particular mid-pandemic iteration of the coworking office space reflects how we are “changing the way we work, but also the way we live,” said SaksWorks president Amy Nelson during a soft opening to the media on Wednesday.

WeWork will function as a service provider for SaksWorks, lending its proprietary workplace management technology to operate the coworking component of SaksWorks and sell memberships. In this regard, SaksWorks is its first client.

When Saks Fifth Avenue meets WeWork, you have SaksWorks.
Rommel Demano/ for SaksWorks

Given that the department store carries aspirational and luxury brands, SaksWorks doesn’t skimp on style, with meeting and restaurant spaces as well as cafés and fitness studios that look as if they were primed for a lifestyle shoot featured on Instagram. There are also event spaces, ideal for professional gatherings, weddings, and more.

Much of the furniture at SaksWorks is repurposed; these shelves used to serve as racks for jeans.
Rommel Demano/ for SaksWorks

Designers for the space also underscored that their team performed extensive research—pre-pandemic and during the pandemic—as to what employees wanted from coworking spaces in the future. That includes flexibility (many of the racks and tables are on wheels to enable more distance when needed) as well as an abundance of greenery and natural light.

These plant-covered walls were installed to absorb noise.
Rommel Demano/ for SaksWorks

But the retailer promises that the workspace is about much more than just work. The idea behind SaksWorks is to ensure that members can stay on-site and have everything they need at their fingertips, virtually all day. For example, members will be able to have hair and beauty treatments on-site; or a mid-afternoon stretch session (courtesy of performance and recovery specialists BDY SQD); or cocktails with friends at SaksWorks’ fully operational on-site bar.

One of the soundproof phone booths/mini-conference rooms for when you want to Zoom outside your home again.
Rommel Demano/ for SaksWorks

Compared with other social clubs, there’s no vetting process. SaksWorks will offer annual and monthly membership options, along with day passes should anyone want to drop in. Opening this month, the Manhattan locations are at Brookfield Place on Vesey Street and the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store. Other locations opening this year will be in Manhasset, N.Y.; Westchester, N.Y.; and Greenwich, Conn.

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