Every four to eight weeks, STORY redesigns the store around a different theme. For its annual Home for the Holidays STORY, the 2,000-square-foot retailer used inspiration from the new movie “The Greatest Showman.”

MICHELLE SIMAKIS

While at the store, one customer commented that she loved STORY because it “has nothing you need but everything you want.” Products included carnival-inspired patterns on smart phone covers, a color-changing umbrella that switches hues depending on the weather, books for cycling and yoga enthusiasts, a kit for making everything bagels and notebooks made from jeans. There were no plants in this particular story. One associate said she remembered at least one story with a southwestern theme that included succulents in ceramic containers.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS

While attending the 2018 National Retail Federation Retail’s Big Show in January at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, I visited STORY, a store just a few blocks away in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that was getting buzz at the show. Most of the industry leaders who speak or are featured at the annual trade show and share best practices are massive, international companies, like Walmart, Chobani and CVS, direct-to-consumer “box” brands, or companies that are using technology to change how they do business.

STORY is tiny by comparison, as it has one location housed in a 2,000-square-foot, ground-floor space. It does not sell products online or specialize in tech gadgets. What it offers instead is a completely different shopping experience. Every four to eight weeks it reinvents itself, redesigning the store and changing up the product mix based on a theme, like Wellness, Disrupt, or most recently, “The Greatest Showman,” the inspiration for its annual Home for the Holidays story. In order to pull this off, the store must close for two to three weeks to prepare new stories, but fans know to check ahead before shopping. The Washington Post reported that the day STORY opened its holiday-themed store, despite cold, rainy weather, there was a line around the block.


MICHELLE SIMAKIS
STORY sometimes acts like a pop-up shop for major brands, highlighting products in new ways, and allows big companies to see how consumers interact with their inventory. Take for example the recent Beauty story, which carried items from Coty, the company behind brands like Sally Hansen and Rimol. Normally the company’s beauty products, like nail polish and flat irons, are sold in major retailers that get millions of customers a year. By selling products in a smaller space like STORY, Coty could offer interactive experiences — such as the DIY manicure station — to see which nail polish hues were most popular. Sometimes products are sold on consignment at STORY, and other products are carried through multiple stories if they fit the theme.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
Everything from products to signage reflected the theme of “The Greatest Showman” story.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
Over in the Kids’ section of STORY, tablets were attached to shelves playing videos of some of the toys, including Toymail, to help promote and explain the products’ capabilities.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
A display in the “Him” section of the store.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS

On its website, STORY explains that “We take the point of view of a magazine, change like a gallery and sell things like a store.” Sales associates are “Storytellers,” and they welcome each guest into the store.

For founder Rachel Shechtman, a former brand consultant for major brands like Kraft and TOMS shoes, “the idea was to create a retail concept that would serve as a matchmaker between brands and consumers, integrating strategies of marketing, merchandising, and business development,” and to provide a “view of retail that goes beyond the transaction and a permanent space where the experience is everything and collaboration tells a STORY.”

Here are some highlights from our visit to the store on Jan. 15, the final day of the Home for the Holidays story. — Michelle Simakis

Gifts are displayed in rooms dedicated to who they are for — Her, Him, Kids or Everyone.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS