My brother Nick and I, aka Nick & Beau, completed a pop-up retail space for the San Francisco online marketplace, Foodzie. It was a quick project to install a multi-modal public experience in the front of their SoMA startup studio. We took a 25' x 14' loading dock with a glass garage door and converted it into a tasting room/class room/product showcase utilizing branded furniture, lighting, shelving and graphic treatments that translate their online presence into a real life experience worth sharing with new and existing customers alike.
In most of our retail strategy and design experience recently, I find that the role of brick-and-mortar retail is to evolving to be one of inspiration and an opportunity to bring enthusiasts and new customers together face to face. Last week I co-wrote an article that goes into detail about some these shifts, which you can read here. The role of inspiring experience can really be quite complimentary to the efficiency and reach that are possible with an online channel and reinforce a lot of what people love about an online brand.
Retail is also becoming a constantly evolving participatory exchange between customers and the brands they love. Foodzie is always encouraging an engagement with their community and this space will be the epicenter of that exchange of stories and ideas that make the relationship with the brand more powerful over time. Events like classes, special guests and tasting sessions will keep people coming back to the store.
We also see retail as a place where brands learn by doing. It's a great format for prototyping a brand experience and refining it with your customers. The days of designing a top down brand experience and then pulling the cover off it are gone because customers are very suspicious of that type of branding and they want to get involved in brands they believe in. The Foodzie Tasting Room won't be a static space, it will evolve out in the open as the Foodzie community refines it. Emily and Rob embrace that spirit with the same do or die startup energy that has gotten them to where they are today. It will be interesting to come back and visit over and over again and see how it has changed.