Fashion’s embraced the here-today-gone-tomorrow approach to bricks-and-mortar retail for a while. Online start-ups looking to get a feel for the real world dip a toe in by opening pop-up stores in major cities. Magazines getting into retail open their own temporary doors. Even celebs sometimes go the pop-up shop route (see: Kanye West’s traveling tour store). In any case, the small, or sometimes not so small, temporary shop housed in a utilitarian venue is a trend that’s becoming more mainstay than buzzword. One particular start-up, it turns out, is behind many of retail’s recent purposefully fleeting successes.
Storefront, which told The New York Times it’s like the Airbnb of pop-up rentals, launched less than a year ago in San Francisco and subsequently expanded to New York. The two founders, Tristan Pollock and Erik Eliason, currently have about 300 listings on the West Coast and another 200 in New York City. While that’s not huge in terms of comparable volume, the service they’re providing so efficiently streamlines the process around an existing, growing need, that Storefront seems poised to a) become the known leader in the field and b) inspire lots of copycat start-ups.
That there is a business at all devoted to this level of niche real estate speaks to its growing prevalence. In a sea of retail-based start-ups with varying degrees of actual utility, Storefront is offering a necessary answer to a legitimate expanding need. Moreover, the mere fact of their successful existence is an indication of a shift back, or at least a shift continuing toward, real-world shopping, which we’ll always endorse. Here’s to the expanding pop-up presence and an easier way to get those doors open.