Kembrel opens second pop-up store

Company founded by Wharton MBA grads seeks to gain new customers

· February 28, 2012, 9:22 pm   ·  Updated February 29, 2012, 2:53 pm

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Patrick Hulce | DP

Kembrel, an online retail store founded by three Wharton MBA graduates, opened its second physical store on 18th and Chestnut streets. The store offers men and women’s clothes and accessories.


Three MBA graduates are behind the new orange and gold storefront on 18th and Chestnut streets.

Inside, the store has a lively presence, showcasing floral dresses, neatly folded denim and colorful pumps. Also on display are stylistic pillows, bamboo sunglasses and an array of bits and bobs just waiting for curious customers to discover.

Kembrel, an online retail store, opened its second pop-up store on Feb. 13. The company opened its first on 12th and Locust streets a few months prior.

The online startup, which was founded in spring 2010, offers flash sales on name brands at 40 to 75 percent off retail price.

After the founders realized that some people were uncomfortable with online shopping, they hoped the physical stores would supplement the online platform.

“It’s a fully integrated concept, a whole new way to connect and engage with our customers,” Co-Founder and CEO Stephan Jacob said of the combination of online and physical stores.

“The store is just a great way to have people come in who are hesitant to buy online,” store manager Phallon DePante said.

Kembrel can now offer “the convenience of online and shopping from home with the tangibility of a physical retail concept,” Jacob said.

Kembrel was created to make name brands more affordable for college students.

“Initially, we focused very much on the student market,” Jacob said.

Jacob and his co-founders Cherif Habib and Aymeric de Hemptinne wanted “to help consumer retail brands connect with the student demographic,” he said. De Hemptinne is no longer involved with Kembrel while Jacob and Habib remain CEOs.

Kembrel focuses on providing unique, interesting smaller labels and brands in addition to some name brands, Jacob said, calling the company “quirky.”

As Kembrel expanded, its customers have evolved to include an older demographic. Students make up approximately half of Kembrel’s online customers and approximately 30 percent of its in-store visitors, Jacob said.

Last Friday afternoon, around 10 to 15 shoppers milled in and out of the store, browsing the products Kembrel had to offer.

Jason Coble, a passerby who was walking down Chestnut street, dropped into the store because it “just looked like a fun store to go into.”

Local resident Essie Karp said she was drawn into the store because she saw the sign for Missoni scarves.

“I’m a Missoni devotee,” she said.

For Jacob, age is no longer the defining factor of the target demographic. “It’s more about lifestyle decisions,” and Kembrel is attracting shoppers who are “young at heart,” Jacob said.

Kembrel is looking to expand to other cities as well as in Philadelphia where a large number of its customers reside, Jacob said.

“It makes perfect sense for us to continue to build a physical presence in those locations where we already have a strong customership online,” Jacob said, pointing to potential locations in New York and Philadelphia.

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