Bricks-and-mortar retail stores are becoming increasingly hard to sustain. High rental prices and operating costs means profit is down and many retailers are closing stores, if not their entire businesses, as a result.
However, as traditional retailers slimdown their physical operations, New York City start-up Bulletin is heading in the opposite direction with a chain of permanent pop-up shops.
“This is the cheesiest way to say this but brick-and-mortar isn’t dead, it’s just broken,” Bulletin CEO and co-founder Alana Branston told Mashable.
“A lot of physical retail fails because these extremely dated companies sort of throw a store together and sign a 10-year lease.”
Bulletin aims to disrupt this with its stores in New York’s SoHo and Williamsburg. These are rent-share spaces where brands that had previously only sold online can experience selling in a physical store without the associated costs.
In a blog post Bulletin’s other co-founder Ali Kriegsman wrote that this flexible model “mitigates the ridiculous price of real estate for all parties” and helps address the issue of long leases.
“The sharing model allows us to democratise retail, which has parted the retail Red Sea and allowed smaller, more authentic brands to show the industry how retail is done,” she wrote.
The Bulletin model
The start-up’s stores are organised around a theme, for example its ‘Bulletin Broads’ Williamsburg store, which sells product from 30 female-run brands.
Floor space is divided into sections of varying sizes—from a small shelf to a larger area—which are rented out by brands on a month-by-month basis.
Brands can apply online to rent space and, once accepted, Bulletin can get them in-store and merchandised in five days or less. Brands have complete control over their area and can also host events and activations in their space.
This not only drives foot traffic, but creates the experiences Branston and Kriegsman believe are lacking in traditional retail.
“In an Instagram world where we’re feasting our eyes on new content 24/7, in-store events allow us to ‘do’ content, too,” wrote Kriegsman.
“We can provide constant, fresh engagement opportunities, whether hosted by Bulletin, one of our brands, or multiple brands joining forces.”
After success with their two New York locations, the pair is now focused on expanding into Los Angeles and eventually internationally.
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