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storenvyA new pop-up concept allows small online retailers "to spend a month in a real-world storefront," reports Amy Westervelt in The Wall Street Journal (2/4/14). Since 2010, Storenvy has provided an "online platform … where small retailers can set up shop and let people browse their wares." Currently, the site "features more than 50,000 merchants." Recently, Storefront Inc., specialists in "setting up pop-up stores," approached Storenvy with a plan to lease retail space to "five of its online sellers" per month, in downtown San Francisco.

"It’s become sort of a retail incubator, where they can test out what it’s like to be in a physical store, figure out whether they can handle it, whether they would sell enough, whether there’s enough foot traffic, that sort of thing," says Storenvy founder Jon Crawford. Among the adventurous is Laura Bruland, "who makes laser-cut jewelry from recycled books under her Yes & Yes designs label." Laura says running a store was quite different from the craft fairs in which she typically participates. Specifically, she says customers seemed more likely to engage in extended conversations.

"A lot of times they’ve just wandered in, because they see the window and it catches their eye, so they’re more interested to talk," Laura says. Because of such conversations, she created a line of cuff links, as women wanted to buy gifts for their husband or boyfriend. She also learned that she wasn’t ready yet to go full time with her own store, because she needed time to make her wares. However, a "half dozen early participants have gone on to open their own physical stores, and the pop-up has been so successful that Storenvy plans to keep it open indefinitely.