Careers Business Ownership What Is a Flagship Store? Definition & Examples of Flagship Stores Share PINTEREST Email Print Thomas Barwick / Getty Images Business Ownership Industries Retail Small Business Restauranting Real Estate Nonprofit Organizations Landlords Import/Export Business Freelancing & Consulting Franchises Food & Beverage Event Planning eBay E-commerce Construction Operations & Success Becoming an Owner Table of Contents Expand What Is a Flagship Store? How a Flagship Store Works Types of Flagship Stores Is a Flagship Store Worth It? By Barbara Farfan Barbara Farfan University of Georgia Barbara Farfan is a retail industry expert with more than 20 years as a business consultant for the retail and publishing industries. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 08/02/20 A flagship store is a retailer's lead, largest, or otherwise most important store. Many flagship stores are tourist destinations as much as shopping locations. Learn more about the importance of flagship stores and where they can be found in the world. What Is a Flagship Store? A flagship retail store is the original, most recognizable, or otherwise important location for a brand. Stores are usually designated a retailer's flagship location if the store: Is the retailer's primary locationIs in a prominent locationIs the chain's largest storeHolds or sells the retailer's highest volume of merchandiseIs a retailer's most well-known locationWas the first retail outlet for the brandHas a decor or merchandise mix that is distinct from the rest of the chainCarries the brand's most high-priced merchandise or caters to the brand's most upscale customersSets a local or world record for qualities such as sizeIs an otherwise a unique or interesting destination The term "flagship" refers to the lead ship in a fleet, which is usually the largest, fastest, newest, most heavily armed, or most well-known ship. How a Flagship Store Works Flagship stores serve multiple functions for a retailer. They can: Establish branding and merchandising standards for other stores Be used for marketing and social media Attract customers for both shopping and events Increase brand recognition and customer loyalty Create press coverage due to unique features, products, events, and more Depending on their uniqueness, individual flagship stores can become a tourist attraction in their own right, especially when there are many flagship stores grouped together in a single shopping destination. Shopping districts like Fifth Avenue in New York, High Street in London, and Nanjing Road in Shanghai contain multiple flagship stores that attract a huge number of shoppers every day. It is more important for a flagship store to attract customers to the brand and create marketing buzz than it is for the location to make a profit. Types of Flagship Stores Every retail store that is the first in its chain to open in any city or state is considered a flagship store. Typically, however, retailers will reserve the flagship title for the retail store locations that are both first and unique in some way. World's Largest Flagship Stores Some retail stores qualify for flagship status because they are officially the largest of their type. The largest flagship stores in the world include: Level Shoe District: World's largest shoe store in Dubai, UAE Powell's City of Books: World's largest used and new bookstore in Portland, OR Shinsegae Centum City Department Store: Largest department store in the world in Busan, South Korea Buc-ee's Convenience Store: World's largest convenience store in New Braunfels, TX Other flagship store locations have earned their flagship status because of their unique features or their role as a tourist destination. These can be found all around the world, even if the company was founded or first opened a store in a different country Flagship Stores in the United States AT&T Michigan Avenue: ChicagoLane Bryant Manhattan: New York CityLord & Taylor Fifth Avenue: New York CityPrada Broadway Soho: New York CitySaks Fifth Avenue: Fifth Avenue New York CityTiffany's: New York City Flagship Stores in China Bucheron: BeijingCoach: ShanghaiLouis Vuitton: ShanghaiMoncler: BeijingSunseeker: Sanya Flagship Stores in the United Kingdom Abercrombie & Fitch: Burlington Gardens LondonApple: Regent Street LondonLouis Vuitton: New Bond Street LondonNike: Oxford Street LondonSelfridges: Oxford Street LondonSolange Azagury-Partridge: New Bond Street London Is a Flagship Store Worth It? There are plenty of reasons why a retail company would pay the significantly higher construction costs and monthly rent that a retail flagship store demands. The press coverage that a flagship location generates can be invaluable to a retail brand, and a flagship store that serves as a tourist destination can increase brand recognition, word of mouth marketing, and customer loyalty. There are also reasons why a flagship store would not be a good investment for a retail chain. The flagship location is not likely to become a tourist destination, and there is nothing worth photographing and posting on social media.There is no unique or exclusive merchandise that customers could not get in any other retail location.The store is not special enough to lure people away from the company website and through the physical store doors.The sole purpose of the store is to make money in a high-traffic area. Flagships are often not the most profitable store locations in the chain because high-traffic shopping areas also have high rent prices.The location of the flagship store is in a country that cannot support the company's existing infrastructure. Whether or not a flagship store is a good idea for a brand depends on the brand's marketing, financial stability, customers, and more. Key Takeaways A flagship store is a retailer's lead, largest, or otherwise most important store.Individual flagship stores can become a tourist attraction in their own right, especially when there are many flagship stores grouped together in a single shopping destination.Some retail stores qualify for flagship status because they are officially the largest of their type. Others earn flagship status because of their unique features or role as a tourist destination.It is more important for a flagship store to attract customers to the brand and create marketing buzz than it is for the location to make a profit.