With the dawn of automation, delivery services, and one-stop-shop titans, retail commerce climate has changed drastically over the last 8-10 years. E-commerce and large warehouses have become a vital part of the growth and survival strategies for a large majority of modern companies. For stores that have historically relied heavily on brick and mortar sales, their profit margins have most likely taken a hit and here’s why:
With the overexpansion of mall development over the last several decades, rising rent commercial rent costs, and the changes in spending habits of many Americans, department stores and other brick and mortar storefronts have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Since 2010, over 12,000 stores are reported to have closed nationally due to this retail apocalypse.
But all is not doom and gloom in the world of retail. E-commerce has skyrocketed many brands to mega success, enabling these powerhouses to cultivate incredible followings and develop their brands for the contemporary consumer. Yet much of this commercial success is thanks to the usage of eCommerce, direct to consumer shipping, and the efficiency of warehouse stocking and automation. With thousands of storefronts left empty, what are we to do with that space?
Empty malls across America have been gradually transitioned and repurposed, with varied success. Yet in urban communities across America, these former flagship stores have left a gaping hole in the neighborhoods they used to inhabit. While owners and landlords alike are still waiting to collect from new tenants, the gravitas and cost alone make this a risky venture for any fledgling brand or expanding business.
In a desirable NYC neighborhood, the cost per sq foot that a single retail space might fetch during traditional market conditions is now far too rich for the purses of everyday retailers and label ambassadors. So owners wait and wait in hopes that they may find a suitable tenant to set up shop in their spaces. Yet these tenants come less and less frequently as the causes of the “retail apocalypse” only intensifies with the expansion of subscription models, free delivery and other consumer conveniences.
What are the developing brands, performance artists, New York entrepreneurs to do?
The answer: Fill the space.
These gorgeous spaces are ripe to be developed, invigorated, and re-purposed to match the most imaginative of minds. By utilizing impressive structures, in couture friendly neighborhoods, a young label can find and cultivate the New York following that it may never have found online.
Whether for a week or a month, a pop-up space can bring traction to an idea or a brand, bring buzz to a neighborhood thirsting for a new neighbor, and the freedom to explore, experiment, and celebrate in a seasonal framework.