Fourpost, a brick-and-mortar solution for e-commerce brands founded by a member of the family that runs commercial real estate developer Triple Five Group, has closed at the developer's Mall of America, a mall spokesperson confirmed to Retail Dive.
Mark Ghermezian, who founded Fourpost in 2018, will become co-CEO of American Dream (which was also developed by Triple Five), and that is the reason for the closure, the spokesperson said by phone.
Ghermezian didn’t immediately return Retail Dive’s request for comment. But last month he made the co-CEO announcement by tweet, adding: "My team from [Fourpost] will be joining me as we embark on this new chapter together."
Despite previous hints at expansion, Mall of America has remained Fourpost’s only location, according to Fourpost’s website.
Another Fourpost location, at the Triple Five-owned West Edmonton mall in Canada, was slated to open the same time as the one in Mall of America. A media spokesperson at that mall, however, told Retail Dive by phone that records show the Fourpost in Edmonton opening in October 2017 (under its former name, RAAS, or "Retail as a Service") and shuttering Dec. 31, 2018.
New decade, new challenge! I am excited to announce that I’ll be joining @americandream as Co CEO. My team from @wearefourpost will be joining me as we embark on this new chapter together. ????????????— Mark Ghermezian (@Markgher) January 15, 2020
The Fourpost concept provided "microstores" for retailers, brands and eateries that were local, emerging or e-commerce pure-plays. It was designed to tear down traditional barriers to entry into malls by providing short lead times — as little as 24 hours — and options for short-term, flexible leases. Each Fourpost "Studio Shop" included fixtures, signage, lighting, POS hardware, Wi-Fi and access to amenities like event space.
It was also a technology play, as Fourpost hosted a member dashboard with business tools and resources like data and analytics, onboarding, account management, business training, calendars, event bookings and billing, the company said at the time of its announcement.
"It was kind of foundational. Almost every major mall developer is doing something of this nature, and Mall of America was probably one of the first with Fourpost," retail consultant Sanford Stein, author of "Retail Schmetail," told Retail Dive in an interview. "The biggest single challenge to any landlord that tries this is that it takes a bigger marketing commitment than they're used to. As you can imagine, some of the digital natives in the space are not well-financed. They come in with nice, interesting products, but they’re not in the position to market their being there."
The mall in such efforts often doesn’t take seriously enough its own marketing responsibility, either, he said, "to keep customers knowing about what’s new, what’s happening" or to make sure that the artists, craftspeople or brands keep their spaces interesting.
As Stein notes, the effort resembled several others. Simon Property Group, for example, debuted its "The Edit" retail platform two years ago at Roosevelt Field in Long Island, and GGP (which has since been acquired by Brookfield Property Partners) added to its Water Tower Place offerings in Chicago with a "living lab" dubbed "In Real Life." Simon is also working in the opposite direction, with the launch last year of an e-commerce site for its premium retail outlets.
Fourpost also had things in common with brand curation efforts from the likes of Showfields and Neighborhood Goods, which similarly say they offer brick-and-mortar advantages to online brands, with shorter-term leases that provide marketing opportunities and measurements of customer interaction not possible online. Anchor Shops, launched late last year, is another such endeavor, which adds distribution to its offer.
"It is a wonderful idea — the idea hasn’t gone away," said Stein, who has written about Fourpost and similar efforts. "Showfields is about as close an example there is of the maturation of that."
The closure of Fourpost raises questions about whether Ghermezian's tasks at American Dream are likely to include such attention to emerging brands. The mall, which finally opened in October after years of delay, is a sprawling and ambitious enterprise that embraces entertainment and recreation (like Mall of America before it), including an indoor ski slope. So far, retail tenants include major brands very familiar with traditional mall leases, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., plus the world’s largest fast-fashion favorites, Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and Primark, according to a September 2019 press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The Mall of America spokesperson declined to say what would replace the Fourpost concessions. In its statement, the mall said, "We are proud of our long tradition of welcoming innovative new retail, attraction and technology experiences for our guests to enjoy."