Skinnycorp, the company behind the community-driven t-shirt site Threadless (Radar post), has opened a companion retail store in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, the physical instantiation of their service is just as well-designed as the virtual one. If you own a website and want to take it into the real world the Threadless store is the one to learn from.
It begins with the front of the Threadless store. The window features the newest t-shirts on LCD-headed mannequins. The LCDs all show images of customers taken in the store via their photo booth.
In the downstairs portion of the store there are about 20 different shirts to choose from. Each shirt has its own column of shelves. At the top of the shelves there is an LCD monitor that shows website comments and rotating user pictures of the t-shirt. The store gets new shirts on Friday as opposed to Monday on the website.
Upstairs has a large collection of awesome graffiti-art — inspired by the t-shirts sold in the shop. A class on digital cameras was scheduled for the day at some of the tables (no one showed up; perhaps it was under-promoted). I ended up working up there for an hour after abusing my wallet downstairs.
It seems to be an odd move for Skinnycorp to take on the added costs and management overhead of a brick-n-mortar store. It makes more sense when you remember that Threadless is built on community. Having a physical space lets them give back to the community in ways a website never will. It helps them expand the brand beyond their current internet-found customer base, while maintaining the personal and respectful relationship with their t-shirt artists — something that they couldn’t do with many partners.
I hope that Skinnycorp continues the process of pulling part of their website into the real world. I imagine that on-site voting and community-created art can’t be too far behind.