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New Shop-in-Shop Experience Offers Fresh Take on the Pop-up Shop

On Thursday, the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead, N.Y. got a taste of pop-up retail’s newest flavor.

R | Evolution is the latest experiment in the temporary retailing phenomenon, bringing a rotating selection of curated brands to consumers every 90 days in a shop-in-shop pop-up experience. The initial cohort of 10 emerging brands on display at a 2,500-square-foot location at the Long Island outlet includes CB Dadi Oil, a cannabidiol-infused nail treatment, women’s backpack and accessories brand MyTagalongs, and Tru Niagen, a healthcare supplement.

Joseph Scaretta, the co-CEO and founder of CS Hudson, which helped develop the concept along with International Retail Management and Consulting Group, cited the steep costs of opening individual pop-up stores as an impetus for R | Evolution, noting the “considerable dollars” of outlay not just for outfitting a space but staffing it with knowledgeable personnel—foreign territory for brands born online.

“We’re not putting in just regular sales or temporary associates,” he explained, “we’re putting in brand ambassadors who live and breathe your brand to the consumer. I think that’s what’s needed to have Instagrammable moments within the space to allow for more consumer base traffic.” Visitors to the space will experience a variety of activations that Scaretta describes as “a very big key differentiator.”

R | Evolution marks the initial brick-and-mortar appearance for several of the participating brands, including Instant Effects, a skincare line. And offering them a “turnkey ecosystem of partners” more than sweetens the deal for small labels lacking the resources to go it alone, Scaretta explained, describing the shop-in-shop experience as less than 10 percent of a traditional pop-up store’s cost.

MyTagalongs R | Evolution pop-up
MyTagalongs backpacks and accessories displayed inside R | Evolution at the Tanger Outlets. CS Hudson

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Landlords, too, appreciate having dynamic newcomers enliven dormant spaces inside their sprawling mall centers.

“I think for a long time landlords were used to these long-term [lease] deals and those deals have gone away,” Scaretta said, highlighting the financial “risk” associated with five- and 10-year commitments. Embracing pop-up players like R | Evolution means landlords are “also able to offer brand new products to their marketplace to help drive additional consumer traffic to their centers,” he added.

“So really, it’s a win-win for the landlord, because it allows them to get more of a consumer base than maybe they’ve had in the past,” Scaretta said.

Because digitally native brands have become accustomed to accumulating a trove of data on customer behaviors and buying patterns, R | Evolution tracks key metrics for each label that gauge performance and impact. And rather than being a one-off play, the shop-in-shop experience startup is in talks with locations in Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania so that brands can scale after their first 90-day run “without having to try to learn how to become a brick-and-mortar retailer,” Scaretta said.

The CEO said the line dividing the “R | Evolution” brand name denotes a blinking cursor, “the mark of the digital native,” according to the company’s credo. Although the launch brands all represent smaller, largely web-based brands, Scaretta sees the pop-up experience working for more established brands and retailers, perhaps those that closed their doors during bankruptcy and are looking to re-enter brick-and-mortar.

Touching on all the consolidation that’s rewritten retail in recent years, Scaretta said he believes emerging brands will gravitate toward a model that limits financial risk and offers consumers a bit of “something for everyone.”