Tupperware goes high-end with $25 straws, $15 apple savers

Tucked away on a street in New York’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, a throng of bubbly influencers giggled and posed for selfies. A DJ played pulsating music amid a sea of neon lights and colorful walls that were expertly curated for Instagram. And, of course, there was alcohol and hors d’oeuvres were passed around.

The scene is typical for any party or new store opening, but the event wasn’t to celebrate a buzzy startup. Instead, it was for Tupperware, the stodgy 73-year-old plastic container maker that has fallen on hard times.

Shares are down more than 70% this year. Tupperware is operating without a leader because its most recent CEO, Tricia Stitzel, left the company last month after less than two years in charge. It has reported a string of dismal earnings this year that missed expectations, partially because of the global trade war, a strong US dollar and customers seeking out cheaper alternatives.

The model of relying on direct sales for buying Tupperware has also hampered growth. Although it’s not eliminating the cultural staple, the brand hopes the new pop-up store, called TuppSoho, and a relaunched website will help turn it around.

“We’ve been relevant for 70 years, but we haven’t connected to all of our consumers, and this is a great step in the¬†right direction of accessing more people,” Tupperware’s chief financial officer Sandra Harris told CNN Business at a press event Tuesday.

The brand hopes the vibrant pop-up store, which closes on December 22, will attract people walking by and reconnect them with the brand.

Tupperware is trying to get recognized beyond just being storage for leftovers. The store features new luxury cookware, a $40 cold brew carafe, a $15 apple keeper and a $25 reusable straw. The latter isn’t available in catalogs or online: It’s sold exclusively at the store.

TuppSoho joins a growing and crowded neighborhood full of pop-up stores from fledgling brands employing the same strategy: Instagrammable experiences that generate free online publicity to expand their consumer bases. Shoe company Allbirds, mattress maker Casper, makeup brand Glossier and even Amazon have all launched with pop-up stores before opening permanent presences.

Harris called the pop-up store a “great learning opportunity” for Tupperware because the company can study how the consumer interacts with the brand. She also hopes the nostalgia factor of the brand will give it a boost.

“The ability to show that the product is still here and still available for a whole new generation to experience this,” she said.

Tupperware’s brand is based on plastic, a material that’s falling out of favor. But Harris said that Tupperware’s durability is an alternative to single-use plastic because it’s made out of a stronger resin than its competitors.

“People recognize that Tupperware is different and it’s here for forever,” Harris said. “The ability for consumers to connect that they can buy something that is plastic but helps to reduce footprint and use of single-use plastics gets consumers excited.”

Harris acknowledged that it’s a “pivotal moment” for the company as it faces an uneasy outlook. She called the pop-up and relaunched website a “step in the right direction” to attracting new consumers.