Whether you eating high-end Vietnamese cuisine in a Mission garage or trying on jewelry in an art gallery, pop-up shops provide unique consumer experiences.
Storefront is a startup that wants to create more of these experiences, by making it easier for anyone to find and rent short-term retail space. Today, Storefront announced raising $1.6 million in seed funding to expand into new markets, starting with New York City.
Opening a retail store can be an expensive and time-consuming process. As a result, chefs, artisans, and designers are increasingly turning to online stores or pop-up shops. The average national vacancy rates for retail space is 10 percent, which Storefront said represents nearly $20 billion in lost rent annually.
Storefront’s goal is to make starting an offline store as easy as an online store. It matches people who need retail space with people who have it, and it tries to cut down on some of the friction involved with starting a physical store. Using the site, entrepreneurs can enter their requirements and search for spaces. Each listing includes detailed descriptions of the neighborhood, photos, nearby businesses, foot traffic, and photographs. Storefront also offers flexible booking and a standardized legal process that streamlines lease agreements and insurance.
Despite the rise of e-commerce, a vast majority of retail still happens offline. Pop-ups allow people to connect with their consumers, build strong relationships, and generate buzz at a lower cost with less risk. Storefront started out in San Francisco, which is home to a vibrant pop-up scene. Restaurants and boutiques here host pop-ups, and many of them go on to establish independent businesses once they get a bit of traction. Brands can also use pop-ups to fuel holiday sales, test new markets, or build buzz for new products.
Storefront has listed over 3 million square feet of retail space in the last six months and helped over 100 brands and companies open pop-up shops in San Francisco. It has partnered with real estate agents and malls like Westfield, Cushman & Wakefield, and Jones Lang LeSalle to list their unused space. In New York, Storefront has options such as a luxury Soho store or a spot in Grand Central Terminal.
Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollack previously founded and sold blog SocialEarth to 3BL Media in 2012. They then founded Storefront, which participated in the Angelpad accelerator Fall 2012 class. Mohr Davidow Ventures, Great Oaks VC, 500 Startups, David Tisch’s Box Group, Sand Hill Angels, and others participated in this round.
Storefront is based in San Francisco.