Storefront, a San Francisco-based startup, describes itself as a marketplace for short-term retail space. The company helps small businesses find retail space for temporary “pop up shops,” typically for periods of a few weeks. Storefront facilitates the process by listing available short-term spaces, a flexible booking system, and a streamlined legal process with standardized lease and insurance agreements.
Storefront does not charge commission on their lease transactions. Instead, the company’s revenue comes from referral fees charged on purchases that it facilitates after space has been leased, such as for fixtures, signage, insurance, and temporary staff.
Much of Storefront’s success has come through providing temporary space for established online retailers. Their reasons for establishing short-term “offline” stores vary. Some use temporary stores as a way to increase connectivity with customers and build their brands. Others use temporary stores to test new markets without the long-term commitments and expenses associated with a traditional lease.
Storefront founders and Minnesota natives Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock were motivated to start the company after learning of friends’ difficulties in transitioning from online retail sales to brick and mortar locations. In an interview with Inc., Eliason and Pollock noted that despite the fast growth in online retailing, offline retail still has advantages such as tactile experiences and the opportunity to build deeper relationships with customers.
Since starting up in December of 2012, Storefront has already brokered over 3 million square feet of space for more than one hundred tenants. Earlier this summer, the company raised $1.6 million in venture capital to fund expansion. Storefront recently launched in New York City where it already has 100 spaces listed. Additional expansion are planned in the future. According to Eliason, Storefront hopes to “make opening an offline store as easy as an online store. That’s our overarching goal.”