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Virtual Reality

Going from click-and-order to brick-and-mortar can be a little daunting, but a company that builds online stores is helping its clients make that leap. Storenvy, which offers free ecommerce solutions for more than 40,000 e-tailers recently offered its merchants space in a pop-up shop and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

Adam Hendle, Director of Community for Storenvy, says brick-and-mortar retail wasn’t on his company’s radar until a storefront in San Francisco’s Crocker Galleria approached them to see if the company would like to offer retail space to its merchants. Storenvy’s management team decided to give it a try.

“Our expertise is in online shopping,” says Hendle. “We thought we’d approach this like an experiment, but it’s taken on a life of its own.”

popupshop8StorenvyFive of the company’s California merchants immediately jumped at the chance to add an offline element to their online stores and the first stores opened in February. Merchants are allowed to lease space in Storenvy’s Pop-Up Shop for 30 days at a time, and can stay up to two months. Each month, a new batch of Storenvy stores—between five or six merchants, depending on space—moves in.

Located in an outdoor mall, the stores are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Products sold include apparel, jewelry, eco-friendly candles and handmade bowties. Hendle says the changeover keeps the store fresh and the customers coming back to see the new merchants. Customers also come back for the fun; Storenvy turns each reopening into a party, hiring a DJ and drinks each time the store changes over its merchants.

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Low entry barrier

Hendle believes the concept has worked thus far because the barrier to entry is low. “The pop-up shop allows the merchants to dip their toes into the retail waters,” he says. “The area is in the financial district and is not in a high traffic retail area. That means the rent is cheap. Merchants can test what works for them without spending a lot of money. Every store has wanted to stay for a second month.” Rent amounts were not shared with SRR.

Hendle says the pop-up shop also gives merchants their first chance to meet their customers. “It can be difficult when you’re online to connect with your customers and build relationships,” he says. “With the pop-up shop, shoppers can come back and many turn into long-term customers.”

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One of the first stores to open in the Storenvy Pop-Up Shop did so well, the owner opened her first solo retail store. Christina Ruiz, owner of TopShelf Boutique, had operated her clothing business online and out of a truck, traveling to shows. Hendle says Ruiz’s experience at Storenvy’s pop-up location gave her the knowledge she needed to make the leap and open her own store.

What started as an experiment has turned into an ongoing project. Hendle says Storenvy has decided to extend the pop-up store offering indefinitely. “Right now, we only have a location in San Francisco,” he says. “We’ve experienced a lot of interest from our merchants in other cities. When we perfect it here, we’d like to roll the concept out to other cities.”

For more information about Storenvy, please visit http://www.storenvy.com. 

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