When cooking instructors at the newly revamped Bed Bath & Beyond in Mount Pleasant press the saute button on an Instant Pot, they won’t just be showing customers how to make better chili. They’ll be fighting off a crisis for the home goods company, which is slated to close 40 stores this year.
Since 2015, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond have tumbled from approximately $80 to $10. Investors have called for an overhaul of the board directing the chain, which was founded in New Jersey almost half a century ago. On the front lines, the retailer is experimenting with what it calls a “Next Generation” initiative, emphasizing equipment demos and a teaching kitchen featuring Bed Bath & Beyond products.
CEO Steve Temares recently told trade publication Retail Info System News that sales in Next Generation lab stores are 2.2 percent higher than sales in traditional Bed Bath & Beyond stores.
Although company spokeswoman Leah Drill refused to reveal how many stores are being remodeled in accordance with the plan, Retail Info System News reported that 21 of the company’s 994 stores were upgraded in 2018. Another 15 stores will receive the Next Generation treatment in 2019, including the store in Mount Pleasant Towne Center.
“We will be offering many different types of events, both food-focused, such as how to use an Instant Pot, cooking demos and samplings, and lifestyle-focused, such as tips for campus living,” Drill says.
While the classes at Bed Bath & Beyond are designed to drive sales, they're likely to help fill a local cooking class void created by the closures of Charleston Cooks and Southern Season, also located in Mount Pleasant.
According to Drill, the overhaul should be completed by the end of May.