As consumers grow weary of basic stores, one modernized retail concept is sailing forward—with the help of a ferry motor.
The New Stand, the 18-month-old shop developed by Mother New York co-founder Andrew Deitchman, is planning an expansion beyond its stationary stores into New York City's new ferry fleet. Earlier this year, the New Stand signed a six-year contract with ferry operator Hornblower Cruises & Events to open 90-square-foot concession-type stores on all 20 boats—the first two, servicing the Rockaways and East River, will begin running on Monday.
The new locations will sell refreshments like cold-brew coffee, wine, beer and liquor, as well as sandwiches from trendy New York brands. The best part for the retailer though—it has a captive audience that can't go anywhere.
"We're not just a retail company. We're also a media platform and part of the partnership with Hornblower is not just concession—we're in charge of monetizing the boat from a media perspective," said Deitchman, who serves as chief executive.
The Rockaway route, for example, is a 56-minute-long ride, according to Lex Kendall, co-founder and chief operating officer of the New Stand. The New Stand plans to use its time with consumers wisely by exhibiting digital screens and signage to advertise brands and also host events like product demos or yoga classes on the boats.
After its 2015 opening with a single location in Manhattan's Union Square subway system, the New Stand, which works with agency Verdes, has grown into three shops within New York transit hubs. Selling an ever-changing assortment of goods, the company's revenue is boosted by brand partnerships, which lower prices. Loyal consumers who download the brand's app can get even more discounts off products.
"In many ways, [the New Stand's approach] is a refresh of the way retail was supposed to be—the concept of partnering with brands," said Greg Portell, lead partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm, noting that brands need to think of retailers as more than just shelf space. "It's the responsibility of the products and the brands to be part of the retail story."
Experts say such creative strategies can help evolve an industry that has long been struggling as shoppers flee legacy infrastructure like malls and heritage retailers like department stores.
"Shoppers want it their way in the moment and their way isn't the same in every moment and that's challenging for retailers," said James Tenser, president of VSN Media, a content-marketing boutique. "Creatives are looking for a way to slice off a profitable piece of that."
"It's still early days, but the ecosystem we're building ... is really coming to life," said Deitchman.