This Department Store Takes Everything About Pop-Ups and Turns It Into Retail

Showfields, which rents space to brands, has opened two more floors in its flagship New York location

The store's three floors are now open for business. Showfields
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Dubbing itself “the most interesting store in the world,” Showfields, a new take on an old retail model by basically renting space to specific brands, today opened up three more floors in its flagship New York store.

Located in the city’s NoHo neighborhood, Showfields first opened up its doors in December, debuting only the first floor. Now, with the rest of the space opening up, only time will tell if consumers come flocking to a store filled with digitally native brands.  

“Brands tend to think that retail is only this type of marketing play,” said Tal Zvi Nathanel, CEO and co-founder of Showfields. “I think it’s way more than that, and once everyone knows that and we see more brands and interesting experiences with the customer—[it’s what] we’re trying to achieve.”

Part of the Showfields aesthetic is dedicating a different theme to each floor. The first floor focuses on wellness with brands like electric toothbrush company Quip occupying a booth, to a Pure Wow-dedicated area of “everyday” products from companies like Peace Out and NatureLab. The second floor centers on the home and includes some first-timers trying out retail, like Weezie, a direct-to-consumer towel company, and a back area with seven curated merchants from Shopify.

For Weezie, part of coming to Snowfields is the ease of joining their platform. To start with, Weezie is stocking its most popular makeup towel design and going to “see how it goes,” said Liz Eichholz, creative director and co-founder of Weezie. As part of the retail test, Eichholz said the company will offer discounts—a practice they normally don’t run—such as giving 15 percent off a purchase at the space if a customer signs up for the newsletter. Another appealing part of coming to Showfields is the possibility to do cross giveaways or sweepstakes with other brands in the space.

“We’re just excited to see how the New York customer interacts,” Eichholz said. “It’s data we can use in the future for our own retail space and also engaging with the other brands.”

Shopify’s dedicated area in the store runs through May and includes merchants like Hudson Wilder, a flatware company, and Baby Tress, which just debuted in November 2018. The space is partly to give merchants an easy way to try offline retail, but also to tell the story of Shopify and how it powers so many companies.

“We have 800,000 merchants who use Shopify globally and so many of those are making the transition to selling in the real world,” said Ian Black, head of commercial retail for Shopify. “So part of the opportunity for us [here] is to tell that story and showcase our ability to help merchants make that transition.”

For example, though Hudson Wilder sells online through the retailer Saks Fifth Avenue (as well as on its own site) the Showfields space is the company’s first foray into retail. It’s one channel to sell to consumers and keep margins minimal, said Conway Liao, CEO and founder of Hudson Wilder.

“There’s a different level of storytelling [here],” Black said. “And hopefully a different level of growth as well.”

Another allure of the space is the store’s museum-like aspect, with art dispersed between the brand’s booths as well as devoting the entire third floor to an exhibition called “Showfields x Future/Past.” Customers and visitors can touch and play with each piece—and then take a slide down to the second floor. It’s the Museum of Ice Cream meets department store hybrid no one knew was necessary.

Since opening the first floor in December, Showfields is now encouraging brands to carry more inventory, as consumers want to walk out with something as opposed to getting it delivered.

“Everybody assumes that retail is more bout this showroom type of experience, but customers want to walk out with a bag,” Nathanel said. “They want to purchase and go out.”

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.