End of July, Solana (FLOOR -34.24%) launched a one-of-a-kind crypto retail experience in the heart of New York. Then, in October, he followed up with the launch of another Solana store in Miami.
In many ways, this new Solana retail store concept looks like a Apple Store – a sleek, high-tech space filled with real-world items to buy, a regular calendar of events, and a knowledgeable retail staff who can help kick-start your crypto journey.
So are crypto retail stores part of an interesting new trend that will finally push crypto into the mainstream? Here’s a look at several other types of crypto retail experiences to see what they have in common. Maybe these unique features will be enough to make this new trend explode.
The Crypto Retail Store
For now, the Solana Spaces retail store in New York is the model for what a crypto retail store experience should be. It looks a lot like an Apple Store. You can learn more about Solana NFTs, explore products like Solana sneakers, and get help with your crypto questions. Solana calls it an “embassy” rather than a store, and the idea is that people will spend a lot of time there learning about crypto.
Online reviews of Solana Spaces are glowing. It’s easy to see how this same type of store concept could be emulated by rival cryptos trying to attract new users, developers, and investors.
The pop-up store
A much more typical crypto retail store, however, is something that can be called a “pop-up” store. In New York, there are already pop-up restaurants and pop-up fashion stores, so how about a crypto pop-up store? In December 2021, for example, Coinbase (PIECE OF MONEY -10.78%) co-hosted a pop-up store in NYC to celebrate crypto, NFTs, street fashion and art. This was several months before Coinbase started offering NFTs on its platform, so the timing obviously made sense.
The blurring of boundaries between the traditional art world and the NFT art world opens up new opportunities. NFT SuperRare Marketplace, for example, has opened a pop-up NFT art gallery in New York’s Soho neighborhood. This makes sense since SuperRare specializes in unique NFTs from emerging artists and Soho has some of the best art galleries in the country.
Other store concepts
Stores can also sell crypto-related merchandise alongside their main merchandise. For example, high-end luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana set up a temporary NFT art gallery in its New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue to celebrate the launch of an expensive new NFT collection. And Los Angeles-based fashion retailer Fred Segal has integrated crypto and NFTs into new types of retail experiences featuring digital products.
There are plenty of other creative ways to blur the line between traditional stores and crypto stores. For example, Ape Water – a water brand inspired by the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection and the ApeCoin (MONKEY -12.85%) crypto – made a takeover of the legendary Pink Dot on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood in November. As part of a launch plan for California statewide distribution of Ape Water, Pink Dot will stock bottles of Ape Water featuring the Bored Apes.
Location, location, location
So what do all of these store concepts have in common? The short answer is: “Location, location, location.”
All crypto experiences in New York, for example, take place in high-density, high-traffic neighborhoods: Fifth Avenue, Chelsea, Soho, and Hudson Yards. The new Solana “Embassy” in Miami is located in the funky and artsy neighborhood of Wynwood. For now, it’s hard to imagine crypto retail stores popping up in bland suburban malls.
Recognizing that millennial investors are more likely to quit than older investors, these crypto retail experiments have focused on adding elements that appeal to younger investors, such as art , music, sports and celebrity culture. The new Solana store in Miami, for example, offers exclusive celebrity-inspired merchandise, a co-working lounge, and an NFT-inspired cafe. The Coinbase pop-up in New York featured limited-edition T-shirts and toys from Japanese vending machines.
Will crypto go mainstream?
Only time will tell if any of these crypto retail experiments will pan out. But there is obviously a blurring of the lines between traditional retail and the brave new world of crypto retail. I am particularly intrigued by cryptos like Solana which are mimicking the Apple Store model and bringing crypto to the masses. Once Solana has its new Saga mobile phones ready for purchase in early 2023, this real-world product could be a big draw for people who want to stop in and learn more about crypto.
Remember: people were very skeptical when Apple opened its first retail store in 2001, so it’s easy to see why people are skeptical of Solana over 20 years later.
At the very least, the presence of more of these crypto retail experiences could help crypto go mainstream. People who are intimidated by cryptocurrency are more likely to invest if they can get support in a cool, funky environment and play around with new crypto gadgets and devices before buying them.
That’s why I’m so optimistic about Solana’s future prospects: it makes crypto easier to understand and use, and doing it in a way that Apple has already shown can be very successful.
Dominique Basulto has no position in the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool holds positions and endorses Apple, Coinbase Global, Inc., and Solana. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long calls $120 in March 2023 on Apple and short calls $130 in March 2023 on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.