Rachel Shechtman’s retail space on Chelsea’s 10th Avenue doesn’t look very different from any other store in the neighborhood. STORY’s façade is a tidy combination of red brick and plate glass, the products inside plainly visible from the sidewalk. What its classic façade doesn’t betray, however, is that every three to eight weeks, STORY becomes a completely different store, swapping out its entire inventory in favor of a new collection of items and a complete redesign of the interior. After a few weeks, those items will give way to yet another new line of products. And a few weeks after that, the whole process will start all over again.
Shechtman describes STORY as “a retail space that has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store.” Every three to eight weeks, STORY closes for business, covers its windows and begins a transformation. Old items are swapped out and new products are transferred in. After a fresh coat of paint, STORY opens its doors once again with an entirely new inventory that coincides with a theme or “story.”
Last month, STORY hosted its second annual “Love STORY;” the store’s 2,000 square feet was filled to bursting with Valentine’s day-themed gifts and novelties that ran the gamut from hand-crafted chocolates to men’s boxers imported from Sweden. Past STORY themes have included “Art STORY,” “His STORY” and “Design STORY,” which means that in the span of one calendar year, STORY has been an art gallery, a men’s lifestyle shop, and a design store —with plenty of pit stops along the way.
STORY’s monthly 180-degree turns are no accident. As an alternative to the idea of being “just a clothing store” or “just an art gallery,” STORY embraces change by design.
Growing up as the child of a lawyer and a creative entrepreneur, owner Rachel Shechtman developed a head for business as well as a creative impulse. After spending time at a start-up that never quite got started, Shechtman began consulting for big clothing and food brands. And while those businesses were successful in the traditional sense, Shechtman felt that there was room for her clients to grow beyond their bottom lines, namely by combining their business acumen with more creative endeavors. She combined this drive with her desire to translate what makes digital experiences engaging to a brick-and-mortar business, and the foundational elements for STORY came together.
“As I looked around the marketplace, I realized we have had 20 years of digital and technological innovation, and we all forgot we live in real life,” says Rachel. “There is an opportunity to reinvent real experiences. I felt excited and inspired about exploring how retail could become more of an outlet for community and entertainment.”
STORY had a soft launch in 2011, calling itself “A Startup Store” selling products from five New York City start-ups. And in February 2012, STORY debuted its first story: “Love.” Color STORY and New York STORY followed shortly thereafter with a whole new set of opportunities for customer engagement. On any given day, STORY can host workshops, readings, tastings, and more; last year, STORY even hosted weekend Pilates and yoga classes to coincide with the Wellness STORY.
In addition to the storefront, Shechtman is involved in pop-up projects. In November of 2013, we had the pleasure of working with STORY when Shechtman curated the Lincoln Loves Collection inside the Lincoln Lounge at the LA Auto Show, as an assemblage of products that embody the story and philosophy of The Lincoln Motor Company.
In 2014, even more changes are afoot for the STORY brand. Shechtman hopes to move into E-commerce and is currently looking at additional retail spaces on the West Coast and abroad. But whether it’s online or on Main Street, the mission of STORY remains the same: to combine smart business practices with envelope-pushing creativity.
“The vast exposure and opportunities that I was fortunate to have informed my interest developing a business model that was as innovative from a creative vantage point as from a financial one,” says Shechtman. “And hence, STORY was born.”
All photos were taken by Drew Innis.