In the broad spirit of co-working spaces and the sharing economy, 'tis the season for the retail manifestation of nimble business practices: namely, the ever-popular holiday pop-up shop. After all, the ephemeral storefront offers the best of both worlds: not only do you get to personally inspect many of the beautiful things you see on the Internet but you get the cachet of an exclusive, limited-time-only marketplace (some, such as last weekend's NeueHouse Holiday Art & Design Bazaar, are open to the public for but a single afternoon—often to the chagrin of those of us who find out the next day). Better yet, they're often hyperlocal, meet-the-maker affairs—exhibitor/vendor fees notwithstanding—that transcend the 'showrooming' phenomenon with what might be deemed a site-specific shopping experience. Here are a few of our favorite ones in New York City this season.
Following its relaunch at NY Now in August, American Design Club has tapped its extensive network of independent designers and makers to stock a jam-packed pop-up shop in the basement of Michele Varian's eponymous boutique in Soho. Many of the designers need no introduction here, but we were impressed with work by newcomers such as Hey Look Studio, Death at Sea and Aaron Poritz, to name a few.
Merchandising 101: Put the best sellers near the front
Accessed via a staircase towards the back of Michele Varian, the American Design Club holiday pop-up is the veritable inner sanctum of the multi-level storefront, a semi-secret trove of highly giftable design goodies.
You didn't hear it from us, but word on the street is that they're offering an in-store only discount this weekend... because sometimes you're better off waiting until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping.
American Design Club Pop-up Shop at Michele Varian
27 Howard Street (at Crosby)
New York, NY 10013
Open Monday – Friday from 11am – 7pm, Saturday & Sunday from 11am – 6pm
It's been a busy year for Alisa Grifo and Marco ter Haar Romeny of KIOSK: Although they lost their beloved follow-the-arrow-up-the-stairs location earlier this year, they managed to move their one-of-a-kind retail operation from Soho to Union Square and subsequently had the good fortune of securing a temporary storefront in Greenwich Village.
A NYC gem for nearly a decade now, KIOSK offers a truly eclectic selection of culture-specific knick-knacks and esoterica for discerning gift-givers. In addition to relocating, the two founders also managed to spend a month in Romania, sourcing their latest collection of things you never knew existed. From a (kind-of) cookie press to a good old-fashioned baby tub, the vernacular and typologies may be familiar to the locals, but they take on a new meaning when removed from their geopolitical context, such that each item takes on a properly anthropological significance. (See also: Usefulness in Small Things, Super Normal)
Presented along one wall of the ground-floor space, just south of Washington Square Park, KIOSK's Romania collection is something like the contents of a post-industrial wunderkammer strewn atop chunks of concrete of equally surprising provenance—rubble from a sidewalk demolition.
Not into Eastern European curios? Don't worry, they have plenty of other rare and wonderful things as well.
540 LaGuardia Place
New York, NY 10012
Open from 11am – 8pm daily
Photo by Rowa LeePhoto by Rowa Lee
This holiday season sees the debut of the High Line Shop, featuring a nicely curated collection of gift items that offer the same broad appeal as the elevated greenspace, which is to say there's something for everyone. While the pop-up shop at Chelsea Market only has space for a limited selection of goods—the full range is available online—a permanent shop is set to open in 2015 (date TBD). While it may seem unusual that the High Line has a dedicated gift shop, the merch (like the park itself) has humble origins: Uniformed staff reportedly fielded enough requests from visitors about where to purchase their T-shirts that the organization decided to sell them to the public.
Photos by Rowa Lee
In addition to the branded apparel, the High Line Shop also offers relevant reading, artisanal housewares and, of course, gardening accoutrements.
The High Line Shop at Chelsea Market
75 9th Avenue (between 15th & 16th St)
New York, NY 10011
Open from 10am – 7pm daily through January 31
Photo by Rowa Lee
Our fourth and final retail recommendation is actually the physical manifestation of a full-fledged e-commerce platform. Naturally, the Tictail pop-up shop in the Lower East Side features only a small fraction of the 1,000,000+ products that are sold through some 60,000 online stores, but as a case of quality over quantity, it's a microcosm of the Swedish startup's community as a whole. Similarly, as a cross-section of independent design, there is a fair share of fashion and accessories; the highlight might be People People's previously seen "Transparent Speaker", some three years in the making.
Tictail Holiday Pop-Up
90 Orchard St (at Broome)
New York, NY 10002
Open daily until December 20
And if you're spending the afternoon downtown, be sure to stop by some of our other (permanent) picks.