Imagine that instead of queuing up in a coffee shop in the morning, you make a quick stop at a kiosk on your way to work and buy a bottle of cold brew coffee and a protein bar with a scan of your smartphone.
As you pay, you notice a shelf with an Oculus Rift headset on it. You ask the cashier what it’s there for and he tells you that it’s demonstrating a new game and asks, “Would you like to try it?”
This is the futuristic shopping experience that Mother cofounder Andrew Deitchman hopes to achieve with his latest venture: the New Stand. Mother is a nebulous ad agency known for going outside the bounds of traditional advertising, like when it created a full length feature film that won Best British Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2008. The company also has an investment arm. It’s no shocker that Deitchman’s new project puts an unconventional spin on newsstands that feels far more innovative than Apple’s recently released News app.
Today, the New Stand launches a crisply designed modular store that has its own digital platform. The New Stand will have two initial locations, both in New York City. The first debuts today at the 14th Street Union Square subway stop. The second opens November 27, inside Brookfield Place at the southern tip of Manhattan. To do this, the company has secured $2.2 million from an unlikely crew that includes investor David Heller, fashion designer Steven Alan, and First Mark Capital partner Lawrence Lenihan.
Almost as interesting as the project itself is the cast of characters that make up New Stand’s founders: Andrew Deitchman, George Alan, Lex Kendall, and David Carson. As mentioned, Deitchman hails from Mother; Alan is a former model and founder of New York City nightclub Output; Kendall is also a former model and cofounder of Evolve Electric Motorcycles; and Carson is the founder of dot-com era media site Heavy.com. Together, they make up a design-savvy, digitally minded team that understands how to use experiences to sell merchandise.
The Union Square stand is nestled underground near the top of the stairs leading to the L train at 14th street and Broadway. The store is outfitted with white magnetic panels and neon signage, giving it a modern feel. Unlike your average newsstand, the New Stand will carry kale chips, exotic shrimp-flavored snacks, and cold brew coffee. The team explained to me that they can’t offer hot coffee because the stand doesn’t have drainage or a sink. In addition to magazines and other reading materials, the New Stand will carry underwear, earbuds, fresh-pressed juice, and other accoutrement you might need the morning after an especially adventurous evening. No doubt, this newsstand caters to a certain income bracket.
Looking around at the various shelves, you might also see a Google Cardboard virtual reality headset that demos a game or a film.
“It’s not necessarily about selling these products in many cases, it’s about elevating the experience overall,” said cofounder George Alan.
What differentiates the New Stand is that it is both a physical retail location and a “discovery platform,” according to Alan. It is as much about commerce as it is about advertising and leverages digital technology to revamp what it means to shop.
“We make money in two different ways. One is selling things to people and one is partnering with brands to get their brands and products in front of people,”said Andrew Deitchman. So, for instance, the company might do a campaign for eBay where one wall of the store is devoted to a curated collection of items presented by influencers on Instagram. The brand, in this case eBay, would pay to have what Deitchman calls a “wonderful advertising moment.” The dual revenue stream helps offset costs for items in the store, making the expensive merchandise more approachable.
Collecting revenue from both advertising and commerce is a very Internet-influenced idea. For instance, Facebook, which has long been collecting advertising dollars, has slowly been building features to help brands sell on its platform. Apple, on the other hand, makes money predominately through hardware sales, but also makes a slice of revenue from its Ad platform. The New Stand takes this idea and applies it to the offline world.
Of course, the New Stand has an online presence, as well. A key component of its business stems from its proprietary mobile app. The app serves as both a rewards card and a payment method. For those who don’t have the app, Apple Pay, Android Pay, credits cards, and cash are also accepted.
The venture also has a media component. Think of it as a replacement for the morning commuter rags that often litter subway platforms. The app will feature daily in-store deals, a news digest for both the morning and evening, as well as a playlist, all of which can be accessed offline. Of course, the app will mention featured in-store products and give brands more opportunities to advertise.
Looking forward, the founders envision that consumers will eventually be able to preorder items, have them delivered, and check themselves out via that app. The New Stand also presents an opportunity for personalized content. You will be able to see the kind of media you’re drawn to in-app as well as view your purchase history, so the app may be able to make tailored recommendations and serve up more relevant content down the road.
The company has also signed a deal with Time Magazine to create standalone media projects that leverage both the physical newsstand and Time’s many media properties. Specifics as to what those projects might entail are still scant, but they’re bound to be digitally minded.
For now, the New Stand’s looking into setting up two more New York locations: one at the Rockefeller station and another at the Fulton Street station. The company also says it’s talking to hotel groups and airports about other potential opportunities.