On Monday, the e-commerce company reopened its 3,800-square-foot community and event venue at the Row DTLA shopping center, giving Shopify’s tens of thousands of L.A.-based entrepreneurs access to a dedicated setting for learning, launching businesses and showcasing their products to consumers.
Shuttered since March of 2020, the reopened space is open seven days a week and includes a new 100-square-foot popup shop dedicated to local merchants. Shopify LA employees will identify three to six brands and artisans to be featured at one time, rotating them out on a monthly to quarterly basis.
The venue has hosted holiday markets and themed popups in the past, Cody DeBacker, Shopify’s head of retail experience, told Sourcing Journal, but the popup shop will represent a permanent fixture dedicated to Shopify’s regional clients. The space “has always been offered to local merchants—primarily those that maybe only had the opportunity to sell through e-commerce and didn’t have a front-facing retail space, or those that were just looking to drop specialized, exclusive products,” he said.
As L.A. brands resume business, Shopify wanted to offer up a high-traffic storefront. This week, five brands—Alfred Coffee, Mickey Hargitay Plants, florist Birch & Bone, streetwear label We Are Uprisers and artist and apparel designer Never Made launched their temporary shops at the new space.
“These are some of the folks that we were working with really closely during the pandemic, helping them through digital one-on-one business coaching, through small group workshop sessions,” DeBacker said. “We ended up just falling in love with their stories, and wanted to give them a platform to sell their products.”
Beyond the popup area, Shopify LA, which opened in 2018, has been redesigned to better suit the area’s businesses, he added. “We realized over the pandemic how much is shifting, and we wanted to make sure we had all the tools necessary for entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area to succeed,” he said.
Shopify LA will continue to offer one-on-one, 45-minute business coaching sessions for founders and employees on the platform—a service that DeBacker said has been invaluable to merchants as shoppers migrated online. “We’ve been wanting to reopen as soon as possible,” he said, adding that “there’s been a clamoring demand for the business coaches” who have been booked out months in advance.
A professional photo studio is also available to Shopify customers, DeBacker said. “We realized very early on how difficult it was to secure a photo studio or professional photography with limited budgets and resources,” he said. A professional photographer is available to help merchants shoot lifestyle photos, flat lays and more. “We’ve even introduced a brand new photo machine that takes 360-degree product photos and renders those into videos or gives you the ability to put those into AR/VR so customers can actually display their products in their home and see what they would look like before actually buying them,” DeBacker said.
Shopify LA now hosts an area for budding entrepreneurs, DeBacker said. “We’ve introduced Kids Space, so we’re helping them to create and get started a little bit earlier than maybe some of us had the advantage to do when we were growing up,” he added. A T-shirt creation campaign tasks children ages 9-12 with creating original artwork, transferring it to the garment, designing stickers and business cards, and “craft[ing] a mini business plan to get their idea into a reality.” As their parents receive business coaching and support, they can also read in the Book Nook.
Blending merchant services with a dedicated retail space was a no-brainer for Shopify LA as the platform’s merchants emerge from one of the hardest periods in recent retail history, DeBacker said. “We believe that retail has evolved, it’s changing, and the future is flexible,” he added. “Physical and online commerce—they have to go hand in hand now, and retailers really need to start getting comfortable with the idea of being able to stay nimble.”