In its most recent catalog, Restoration Hardware’s chairman and CEO wrote, “we believe history will demonstrate that…[stores are] the most compelling and cost effective way to engage and inspire customers in a physical world.” The problem is, stores today do not fulfill their potential and they need to change. It doesn’t help that landlords have been slow to recognize that they need to lower their prices to account for how the world has changed or that they still want the same long-term commitments that aren’t what the market will bear anymore. The country is overstored and it’s taking a long time for retailers to adjust. Tom Patterson, the CEO and Founder of the brand Tommy John, told me last week, “we’re in the middle of a grand experiment.” We are starting to see some small, micro hints of the creativity and experimentation required that will inevitably happen on a large scale. One cluster of such hints is a multi-block retail renaissance poised to occur on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village (in Manhattan). One of the stores jumpstarting the effort is Naadam, whose hero product is cashmere sweaters. Naadam pays herders in remote areas of Mongolia an above-market price for their wool and then makes the wool into sweaters that it sells direct to consumers. By eliminating many steps in the distribution process, Naadam can sell its high-quality cashmere sweaters for less even though it pays the herders more. The store features a virtual-reality headset inside a cloud of cashmere fiber hanging from the ceiling that consumers can use to view the region where the wool is sourced. The emphasis is on the ethics of the brand and where it’s sourced. Read more at Forbes.