Urban Outfitters: Soon Selling Booze?

By Sarah Beller 05/20/13

The retailer plans to serve alcohol in its new Williamsburg location. But will it be a "chill vibe?"

Bo-urban Outfitters? Photo via

The Urban Outfitters that's scheduled to open soon in the heart of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood will apparently be serving up more than just t-shirts and flasks; the new store, whose clientele skews towards "young and hip," reportedly plans to sell booze. At Monday night's CB1 Brooklyn meeting it was revealed that the chain retailer plans to file for a full liquor and restaurant license, though they have not yet officially done so. It's not yet clear what kind of store-restaurant-bar the franchise hopes to establish, but some Urban Outfitters in other cities have in-house cafeteria-style cafés and sandwich shops. And last year, the corporation merged shopping and eating at two of its Urban Outfitters Terrain stores, with restaurants offering "$36 striped bass, $39 ribeye and a $19 vegetable plate." Urban Outfitters Terrain's president Wendy McDevitt says customers who eat lunch or drink wine will typically stick around the store for twice as long. “Food is becoming bigger and bigger in terms of entertainment value,” she said. It's hardly a surprise that a company might think alcohol would help sales. But it may not be as easy as the company hopes. A local resident seemed skeptical of the idea: “I like their clothes sometimes,” says Sarah Fredette, who lives on Devoe Street. “But I don’t think a bar in clothing store will have a very chill vibe.”

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Sarah Beller is a writer and the Executive Director at Filter. She has written about drug policy with a focus on harm reduction for Substance.comThe Fix and Salon. She has worked as a social worker with formerly incarcerated people in New York for a number of years. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’sThe HairpinThe ToastReductressThe Rumpus and other publications. You can find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.