Why digital retail darlings Warby Parker and Allbirds are betting big on stores to grow ahead of public debuts

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A Warby Parker's store in The Standard, Los Angeles, California.Michael Buckner | Getty ImagesRetail darlings Warby Parker and Allbirds launched on the internet and paved the way for other brands to follow their playbooks and hope for similar success.Now, they're betting big on real estate — not the web — to fuel future growth, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show. Whether they reap the benefits of physical stores could shape the path ahead for other online-first companies.The two businesses have become synonymous with the term "direct-to-consumer" in the retail industry. The strategy involves avoiding wholesale channels, such as department stores, to forge stronger relationships with customers. DTC companies have few or no brick-and-mortar locations.Dozens — if not hundreds — of brands have debuted and labeled themselves in the DTC category in recent years. Products range from makeup and pajamas to toothbrushes and deodorants.As Warby Parker and Al
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