There once was a time when it was costly, complex and risky to open a retail store. Long-term leases, inventory, financial transaction costs all were barriers to starting a business. Online selling has solved a lot of those problems, and opened small business opportunities across the country. Still, there are advantages to the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar retail shop(pe). It’s the only way customers can touch and feel your product, and shop owners can look their customers in the eye.
The popularity of pop-up stores has shown a path to breaking the long-term lease obstacle to starting an offline retail store. Still, a lot of friction remains in opening a store. From searching for space, to negotiating the agreements to finding the right fixtures and signage needed to set up a store, there are still countless hurdles to overcome.
But there is a new startup that’s solving some of the last obstacles to offline retail. Storefront makes it easy for brands to launch pop-up shops. The new start-up is a marketplace for short-term retail space. Founded by Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock, Storefront makes underutilized space more accessible to brands and retailers that seek to engage with their customers in the real world and bring life to an empty space.
Pop-up stores have many advantages to those wanting to start a business, or enter a new market. Rather than sign long-term commitments before you know a concept will work, why not try it out with a short-term solution and test market a concept?
The concept of Storefront is great for the real estate industry as well. Retail vacancy rates in the United States is nearly 10% This translates to nearly $20 billion is lost in rent every year in the United States due to retail vacancy. Not only that, but an empty space is bad for all: the landlord, nearby businesses, and the entire community.
Some of Storefront’s customers include brands like Storenvy, Indochino, Google, and National Geographic. They also work with a lot of independent retailers and designers that are up and coming and have a significant following online.
So, Storefront is helping customers who want a real-world connection with online brands they love, and they’re helping business break through the many barriers to entry of an offline business. And, they’re helping the real estate owners by keeping their storefronts filled. It sounds like a win, win, win to us.
Storefront has only been in business for seven months, but they seem to be on the precipice of a big, innovative business opportunity.