The “WeWorkification” of Retail Spaces
As the commercial real estate market grows and becomes more competitive to secure tenancies, it seems that only the big fish survive. Being able to lease a lease has become an uphill battle for small businesses trying to get their foot in the door. However, in case you missed it, there are now “WeWork” formatted spaces that allow small businesses to sell their products in a physical space for a fraction of the price. We’re diving into how these spaces operate and how they’re reshaping our retail landscape.
A pivotal brand that’s making big waves in the industry is Neighbourhood Goods in New York, USA. Similar to coworking spaces Neighbourhood Goods operates on a membership subscription-based model where small businesses pay a monthly fee to gain access to a section of the retail space. Rather than these businesses opting in for a water-tight lease that’s impossible to escape, Neighbourhood Goods’ memberships are flexible and cancellable at any time. More importantly, this format lowers the barrier to entry for businesses, making physical retail spaces more attainable. Although there are more of these spaces popping up across North America, we reckon it’s about time for it to spread its wings in Australia.
If you are considering launching a co-retail space, your fit-out’s design is vital as customisation is key! As these spaces cater to various businesses with countless offerings, your fit-out needs to be simple, yet dynamic to accommodate your members. Elements like movable shelving and curated decor are vital to allow your members to express their brand’s identity while also ensuring your space as a whole is recognisable to shoppers.
The best way to think about it is like a blank canvas. Going “all-out” with an over the top fit-out will detract from your member’s stalls, while an underdone fit-out could result in a space that is bland or unengaging. So how should it be designed? We recommend designing your space to be simple and understated, yet contemporary to withstand the test of time. Drawing inspiration from department stores can often play a major influence in the space’s design. Another top tip is to partner with a fit-out specialist from the get-go! Having a strong and consistent relationship with a fit-oput company can help streamline the set-up process as well as give your members easy access to a company that can help deliver any design and joinery work for their space.
A great example of this is by Re:Store in San Francisco, US which aims to bring e-commerce brand owners together to allow them to sell their products in a physical space. Re:Store goes back to fit-out basics; their three-storey space features polished concrete floors, select built-in shelving and interchangeable product displays. The Gen Z aesthetic found throughout the space perfectly ties in their showcased members, all while keeping a cohesive feel that aligns with Re:Store’s brand.
Despite small businesses being faced with the challenge of securing a store space, we’re optimistic that co-retail spaces like Neighboughood Goods and Re:Store are lowering the barrier to entry. Spaces like these present a strong opportunity for the Australian retail sector. If you are ready to kickstart a co-retail space, carefully considering the design and atmosphere of your fit-out is essential to creating a space unique to your members, but also to your brand as a whole.