The rash of retail bankruptcies and store closures has created a glut of available space on High Streets and downtown shopping districts. But while there’s no shortage of retail real estate, there’s a dearth of new concepts being launched. Appear Here, an online marketplace for short-term space for pop-up shops, today announced a competition, Space for Ideas in partnership with Square, to find the next three big retail ideas.
Winners of the contest, which runs through midnight Sept. 15, will each receive flagship space for two weeks in London, Paris and New York; mentorship, design advice and the budget necessary to bring the ideas to market are part of the prize package. Also included in the prize is $3,000 to spend and up to $10,000 in design services. Contestants can view the competition site, appearhere.nyc/spaceforideas.
“Appear Here aims to give emerging brands and young designers the leg up they need to get started,” said Ross Bailey, founder and chief executive officer. “The greatest challenge many of them face is finding affordable retail space and raising the funds to bring their ideas to fruition.
“We want to encourage the best and most creative entrepreneurs so they can kickstart their concept and showcase it in front of people,” Bailey added. “They want to try out and see what their ideas will actually look like and get customer feedback.”
The panel of judges for Space for Ideas includes Neil Blumenthal, cofounder of Warby Parker; Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-porter; Nick Jones. founder of Soho House, and Ajaz Ahmed, founder of AKQA.
“Space for Ideas helps talented people turn ideas into reality,” Blumenthal said. “As an entrepreneur, I’m inspired by the energy and innovation that bubbles up through the competition.”
The average store size will be around 1,000 square feet. “Every brand will obviously make their store look at permanent as possible,” Bailey said, noting that contest winners will be revealed Sept. 21 , and the retail doors will open Oct. 18 and operate through Nov. 1.
“If ideas are very successful we’ll help them with a store for a much longer period of time. We’ve got someone dedicated on the team to brand success,” Bailey said, adding that Space for Ideas will organize buyer days.
Appear Here in 2013 launched online to connect brands, retailers, designers and entrepreneurs with available space, seamlessly online. The company has worked with brands such as Supreme, Loewe, Coca-Cola, Net-a-porter and Kanye West, as well as independents and entrepreneurs.
More than 4,000 exclusive spaces have been listed on Appear Here in the U.K. and France as of April, the month the service was launched in New York. “There’s a lot of available supply in New York,” Bailey said. “With 30 percent vacancy in the city, I think there’s a problem.”