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Investors Betting $9M That Showfields Really Is The Most Interesting Store In The World

Showfields, a physical space in Manhattan that leases small parts to specialty online retailers, has obtained a $9M investment from Hanaco Ventures of Tel Aviv.

Showfields, 11 Bond St., Manhattan

Showfields, which bills itself as the "Most Interesting Store in the World," opened in December at 11 Bond St., occupying 15K SF on four floors of a renovated building.

It includes elements of pop-up retail — which can offer online merchants a short go at a physical location — with a WeWork-like model that rents small users space on a temporary basis.

"We believe the next wave to displace traditional retail is 'experiential retail'  —  a better way for consumers to discover and build a relationship with a brand through in person experiences," Hanaco general partner Lior Prosor wrote in Medium about the venture capital company's reasons for investing in Showfields. "And within this emerging 'experiential retail' category, we felt (and still feel) Showfields has nailed the experience and has quickly emerged as a leader in this space."

"Showfields is about creating the full infrastructure necessary to access the physical experiential retail channel," Prosor wrote. "It is a combination of real estate, design, staffing, foot traffic, analytics and more."

The model is known as a retail-as-a-service platform, and is being tried at various locations, especially in traditional malls looking to fill empty spaces, at least temporarily.

Shoppers at Showfields can examine in person a variety of goods previously available online. The space encourages visitors to explore products displayed in a gallery-like environment, with "hosts" on hand to offer further information about the products. Customers can buy items directly at the store or, in some cases, order them at Showfields for delivery elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Startup brands rent 100 SF to 200 SF of enclosed space for four-month periods, eliminating the risk of committing to a longer-term lease for online retailers that might not have the resources to do so.

"If we can make the process of opening a store as easy as opening a website, we can solve that problem for them,” Showfields co-founder Tal Zvi Nathanel told PYMNTS.

Online brands pay from $6K/month to $20K/month for their space at Showfields. The building features a café and holds events to attract visitors.

The WSJ also notes that cameras record visitor movements within the building, so retailers will know how long people spend in each enclosed space.