Hold My Beer & Watch: Retail Isn’t Dead, Just Different.

by Carrie Bobb

Katie Hunt, Co-Founder of SHOWFIELDS, was on a panel this weekend at Summit LA, the world’s preeminent ideas festival. She looked around the room at innovators and entrepreneurs and shared that when they were acquiring their 14,000 sf space, people told them no one will ever visit the third floor of the four-story building.

To those people who said it wouldn’t work? “We said, ‘Here. Hold my beer,’ and we built a slide,” said Hunt.   

SHOWFIELDS slide connecting the third and second floors | New York Times

With consumer spending at more per capita than ever in history[1], RETAIL isn’t dead. Legacy RETAILERS are dying and there’s a difference. 

In this month’s Fortune article, American Spenders Are Fueling Growth: How Long Can it Last?, shoppers are named as heroes of the economy. The Fannie Mae economists concluded, “Consumer spending remains the most important force driving the continued expansion of the U.S. economy.”[2]

THE ROLE OF BRICK & MORTAR

SHOWFIELDS | Trendhunter.com

SHOWFIELDS is known as “The Most Interesting Store in the World” as they partner with digitally native brands giving them a low risk setting to begin to grow offline.  

“We are not that interesting. We are just a stage for those who are creating the most interesting work in the world,” said Hunt. “Every brand will need a physical touch point in order to scale. We offer physical space for young retailers so you can meet your consumer.” 

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Erik Nordstrom, CEO of Nordstrom, weighed in on the changes in retail in light of opening a 320,000 sf flagship in Manhattan, “Customers are going to do what they want to do. Our job is not to try to coerce them into a channel or a certain experience that we prefer. Our challenge is to give them options and let them do what they want to do.”[3]

CREATING CONNECTION

The Drug Store | Irisnova.com
The Drug Store is a conceptual retail experience used to test new beverage concepts before they are produced in bottle format on a national scale.

Zak Normandin, Founder & CEO of Iris Nova the parent company for DirtyLemon and The Drug Store, was on the panel with Hunt. He said, “Consumers don’t want to be sold to or advertised to through the Instagram experience as much any more. They want connection. They are craving actual, real connection. They want the physical store experience.” 

When asked about the importance of creating Instagrammable spaces, Hunt replied, “We are creating authentic moments. That’s the secret sauce. We would have run out of ideas if we were just creating Instagrammable moments. Instead we are giving creators, entrepreneurs a canvas to storytell. What they are building and creating with their brand is beautiful. And people should want to take a picture.” 

Stories matter. Consumers care about the founders story. 

Consumers are spending at record rates, yet stores like Barney’s are closing.

It is the age of the creator. People are craving innovators, creators and thinkers. Normandin suggested the future could have less billion-dollar companies and more starter companies. Innovation is driving starter culture.

The marketplace is being run by consumers. And consumers want community and connection. 

To those who say it can’t be done, grab a beer and watch, because some things are being built differently.

Carrie Bobb is the Founder & CEO of Carrie Bobb & Co. She has completed transactions with brands such as Sephora, SoulCycle, Drybar, Fox Restaurant Concepts and many others. She was named one of San Diego’s Power Women in Real Estate and received her MBA from the University of San Diego. Carrie lives in San Diego with her husband, Matt, their three inquisitively adventurous kids and one joyful golden doodle.


[1] https://fortune.com/2019/10/23/consumer-confidence-us-economy-growth-gdp/

[2] https://fortune.com/2019/10/23/consumer-confidence-us-economy-growth-gdp/

[3] The Case for Flagship Stores in the Age of the Internet – Bloomberg Businessweek

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