Fourpost, a retail concept founded by CEO Mark Ghermezian (whose family’s Triple Five Group owns big-scale North American malls) on Nov. 1 will open "microstores" of local, emerging and e-commerce pure-plays at two of those centers, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. The venture also announced $5 million in funding from investors including the chief executives of Warby Parker and Parachute Home, according to a press release.
Small and digital merchants can use Fourpost to open a brick-and-mortar shop in as little as 24 hours, without typical barriers like long-term leases, capital expenditures and operational logistics, the company said. Each Fourpost "Studio Shop" includes fixtures, signage, lighting, POS hardware, Wi-Fi and access to amenities like event space.
Fourpost also features a member dashboard that provides business tools and resources like data and analytics, on-boarding, account management, business training, calendars, event bookings and billing, the company said.
Triple Five Group joins Simon Property Group and GGP in inviting digital pure-plays into the American mall.
Simon earlier this year announced that its "The Edit" retail platform, which debuted a year ago at Roosevelt Field in Long Island, is expanding with a host of international brands, initially focusing on accessories and beauty. GGP added to its Water Tower offerings with a "living lab" dubbed "In Real Life," in partnership with retail pop-up architecture company The Lionesque Group.
The efforts are based on a curation concept also seen in department stores, as with The Market at Macy's and [email protected] Startup Neighborhood Goods, which calls itself a "modern alternative to — and evolution of — the department store," next month opens its first physical location in Plano, Texas, in a 255-acre open-air shopping center and will similarly showcase a series of cult and pure play e-commerce brands.
The idea is apparently working. Simon Property Group executives in August noted that their experiment is still a work in progress, but said they and the participating brands are pleased so far. "It does work as an incubator and we're seeing positive results out of it," Simon President and COO Rick Sokolov told analysts, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.
The commercial real estate industry has had to adjust to this kind of demand, however. The accommodation of these kinds of businesses has called for throwing out the rulebook in terms of signing leases and doling out space. Agreements aren't necessarily focused on traditional square footage, for example, and brands can work more creatively with areas' size and shape, according to Fourpost.
"The industry has not kept pace with modern retail," Ghermezian said in a statement. "We built Fourpost to completely re-architect the process by building a community and breathing fresh air into what has been a stale industry between landlords and brands for hundreds of years."