Just as the Germans have added a third gender that gives parents another box to consider ticking at their baby’s birth, a new concept shop in New York has introduced another category to the retail industry. To brick-and-mortar and online stores, add the notion of the permanent but ever-evolving pop-up shop.
Set in a 2,000-sq.-ft. space in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood, Story is a pioneer in this unprecedented option. Just like the NYC art galleries with which it shares a street address, Story has adopted an MO of regularly changing its installations. In other words, every four to six weeks, the retail environment at this quirky boutique gets trashed and rewritten.
With each switch, the physical space is repainted and redesigned. A new layout is imagined, new fixtures are installed, a new carpet is laid, furniture is shifted and a whack of new products is artfully set out for consideration. Each new manifestation emerges like a miracle inside the same glass-wall-enclosed space — but as an entirely different store.
Story loyalists keep upcoming themes under lock and key. Past incarnations of the place — which, broadly, sells gifts, gadgets and unique finds that hone in on user experience — have included wellness (a full-size swing, a ping pong table and a carpet of real grass were highlights) and love (VPL lingerie, Vosges chocolates, Baron Wells fragrances and Lafco candles filled the shelves). Up next? The second installment of a favourite from last year, Home for the Holidays, launched this week.
In addition to the physical space itself, Story reinforces its themes by hosting cross-platform events that support it, like hooking up with an online dating service and offering in-store pasta-making classes. This extraordinary marriage of independent shop and well-curated specialty store effectively establishes long-term housing for short-term pop-up stores. It is, say its proponents, the perfect answer to a retail landscape in which brick-and-mortar stores face monstrous competition from online sellers.