Nearly a year and a half after it opened its first brick-and-mortar store on Long Island, online jewelry retailer Blue Nile has opened its fifth store in Bellevue, Washington, near its headquarters.

Despite its main success through online jewelry sales, the 17-year-old company sees value in connecting with customers one-on-one and in-person.

Until now, Blue Nile, based in Seattle, had four in-person showroom locations — two in New York, one in Oregon and one in Virginia — and still keeps the majority of its sales online with hundreds of ring and jewelry options. The new store is located in Bellevue Square in Bellevue, WA.

The new showroom allows shoppers to touch and feel the jewelry — which can be important to shoppers making a large purchase, such as an engagement ring or other diamond piece — while asking questions of employees, who are not paid on commission. Tablets loaded with the company’s full catalog will also be available to flip through. Upon deciding on an item, tablets will be available in-store for purchasing or furthering the quest for the perfect piece, including loose diamonds.

The move to add physical locations is one that CEO Harvey Kanter believes could be a central part of the company’s trajectory over the long haul, focusing on personalization and connecting with shoppers. The concept is similar to brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos, which started as eRetailers and then laid the groundwork and foundations for a bunch of brick-and-mortar stores.

Kanter said that, down the line, Blue Nile will expand to include 25 to 50 of these showrooms. The business is slated to be acquired by Bain Capital Private Equity and Bow Street LLC next year for $500 million.



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