Story, a 2,000-sq.-ft. retail space in Chelsea, is more like a magazine or a gallery than a store. It offers an eclectic range of wares curated around constantly changing themes—and reinvents itself accordingly every four to eight weeks.
Founder Rachel Shechtman has written the book on narrative storytelling for retail, creating a serial pop-up store that keeps customers coming back for more. A former marketing consultant, she has applied what she learned on brands like TOMS Shoes, Kraft Foods, and GILT to her own enterprise, a hybrid space that blurs the lines between retail, exhibition, and media and demonstrates the power of storytelling in creating a unique and engaging store experience. Shechtman often collaborates with guest curators and architects such as Instagram illustrator Donald Robertson and fashion icon Iris Apfel. Past themes have been wide-ranging, from Color to Love, Wellbeing, New York, Cool, and Creativity.
Shechtman has said she set out to show why people shop in "real" stores: for a unique experience they can't get online. And she told FAST Company, "My rule: 70% of an experience should be what consumers know and 30% should be surprise and delight..." Storytelling is a key component of the store's success, and product labeling is designed to engage customers with the products, their makers, and the philosophies behind them. Like a magazine, each themed space is accompanied by a "Letter from the editor" that explains the origins of the theme.
Shechtman worked with Stefan Sagmeister and Jennifer Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh to create an identity for the store that goes with the (changing) existential flow. Sagmeister & Walsh designed the identity around the holding device created when the word “Story” is spliced in half, adding brackets that cradle its current theme.
Theme names have been rendered in neon, vinyl, LEDs, and other eclectic materials appropriate to the current theme and merchandise. Shechtman's success has proven that change happens, and that's a good thing.