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The Container Store and Dormify partner for back-to-college

Both retailers have popular products that have gained college reputations.

With their customers shopping for a more normal back-to-college experience this fall, two complementary retailers — The Container Store and online furniture and décor retailer Dormify — decided to partner for the season.

Dormify has added back-to-college pop-ups inside 10 Container Stores, including its Dallas store on Northwest Highway, through Sept. 5. The other pop-ups are in Container Stores in Houston; Manhattan; Nashville; Raleigh, N.C.; Alpharetta, Ga.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Vienna, Va.; and King of Prussia, Pa.

Dormify-outfitted beds anchor the college-bound shops that are filled with the Container Store’s dorm- and apartment-focused closet, desk, bath and storage merchandise.

While the two retailers are known for innovation and creating spaces that work, their product mixes are complementary, said Amanda Zuckerman, Dormify’s co-founder and CEO. Last year, Dormify opened five pop-up stores, including one in Dallas’ West Village.

“We’re not in directly competing categories, but we both excel in our categories and have the same customer,” Zuckerman said. The Dormify pop-up is a marketing tool for now, but in the future, she said, “we would love to sell our product in their stores.”

The Container Store CEO Satish Malhotra said the Coppell-based retailer has amped up its marketing to college-age customers, adding that he’s “really encouraged” with the results so far.

Campus “ambassadors” are distributing flyers during dorm move-in weekends and at freshman orientations. The company is also including college-focused materials inside shipped orders.

Both retailers put a value on customer service and have products that are popular on college campuses already.

For Dormify, it’s a smart headboard that attaches to the wall and comes with USB ports and a plug because “dorm room electrical outlets are always in terrible locations,” Zuckerman said.

The Container Store is known for its dorm-size, three-tier rolling cart, school-calendar planners, under-the-bed storage and what Malhotra called “the most famous Elfa printer/fridge cart.”

This year’s average back-to-college spending of about $1,200 matches last year’s record high and exceeds pre-pandemic spending, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation.

Malhotra was speaking to analysts Tuesday to review the quarter that ended July 2, which included a sales increase of 7.1% to $262.6 million and a 32% decline in profit to $17.9 million due to higher freight and marketing expenses.

The retailer’s custom closet business posted its seventh consecutive comparable quarterly sales gain. Last year, the Container Store acquired a Chicago custom closet competitor, giving it more styles and features, including a wall bed. It’s been named the Preston collection, after the company’s original location in 1978 on Preston Road and Forest Lane in Dallas.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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