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Putting the Narrative in Innovative Retail: Rachel Shechtman, Founder, Story

  • April 06 2015

Portrait by Danilo Agutoli

There's a story behind every bet, but Rachel Shechtman can claim a bet behind her Story. Story is the  one-of-a-kind retail space she runs that undergoes a complete transformation every four to eight weeks. A friendly wager inspired this model of perpetual motion, which Shechtman says "has the viewpoint of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store."

"My friend Ben Kaufman, founder of Quirky, bet me that I couldn't open my store in four weeks," Shechtman recalls. "At the time, we didn't have our trademark on Story. [There was] no electricity, plumbing or merchandise, but I knew I wasn't going to lose the bet. I started thinking to myself, 'If tech companies get beta… then why can't physical experiences?' So we decided to launch as a startup store in beta."

Shechtman won the bet, and came away with an innovative "retail as media" business model. From day one, Story's concept has been to serve as a platform for makers to share their crafts, and more importantly their stories, for consumers to discover. Cool stuff, curated and cleverly merchandised. Early iterations included "Love Story," "New York Story" and "His Story," among others. Major brands soon wanted in, with GE, P&G, American Express and Target buying sponsorships to get in on the shop's singular themes.

"There are opportunities to leverage our unique combination of core competencies," Shechtman says. "A living lab meets agile merchandising tactics and breakthrough partnerships to affect meaningful change at scale."

Besides, Shechtman says, everybody loves a good story. "We are all looking for meaningful connections online and offline," she says. "And we explore that in new and differentiated formats." —Glenny Brock


Rachel Shechtman is honored in the category Brainwave: Changing the way a product is marketed.