Published in Ancillary Retail

Retailers looking to access and customize a pop-up space now have a new tool: ShopLAB, which recently opened at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. ShopLAB is a 500-square-foot store space which opened this fall at the mall.

It’s intended to be utilized both by online brands looking to give customers physical access to their products and by retailers with physical stores that want to test out the location. Parts of the store space are customizable to the preferences of each retailer, including light fixtures, sound and even scent.

To learn more about ShopLAB and the wider ancillary retail trend of which it is a part, we spoke with Yaromir Steiner, CEO of Steiner + Associates and founder of ShopLAB. Steiner says the concept has the opportunity to breathe new life into tired mixed-use centers, and works for both mall owners and retail pop-up owners. Our questions are below, followed by Steiner’s answers. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Ancillary Retail: How did you come up with the concept for ShopLAB?

Yaromir Steiner: The idea for ShopLAB comes from a growing retail trend in which online and small brick-and-mortar operators incapable or unaccustomed to the heavy capital requirements of opening stores use low capital risk pop-up shops to test out ideas or new markets. By doing so, they leverage the access to capital of the landlords.

This is one of many efforts being developed in the industry, the closest example to our own concept being the BrandBox by Macerich. ShopLAB is one of the many ways that we diversify and enhance our retail offerings and shopping experiences at Easton Town Center. At the same time, our customers get to experience new brands they might not have otherwise.

AR: How can this be a solution for the next generation of retail?

YS: As pop-ups continue to gain traction across the country, there is an immense opportunity to attract new retailers on the rise to Easton. ShopLAB is a low-risk solution for the retailers, allowing them to test the customer capture potential and the online halo effect of brick-and-mortar locations. This may lead a retailer to establish a permanent brick-and-mortar presence or organize a pop-up tour around the country to regularly kindle the flame of their online business.

ShopLAB is dedicated to hosting online brands looking to build a brick-and-mortar presence.

AR: How do you select which online brands to partner with?

YS: We place a strong emphasis on local Ohio brands, unique gifts and concepts, experiential retailers and up-and-coming brands looking to test out the Columbus market as a future long-term investment. However, we also expect a minimum of digital infrastructure and a strategic will to scale the business.