The rise of the "shoppy shop," on being an online brand, and some exciting work/life updates.
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I ~ Baby’s Gone Shopping
New York Magazine recently published a story titled “Welcome to the Shoppy Shop: Why does every store suddenly look the same?” dissecting the “shoppy shop” AKA the rapidly growing class of calculatedly curated boutique stores that seem to be popping up everywhere. The story argues that one of the main catalysts for this movement of third wave coffee shops, mini-markets and retail stores — all donning the same Fishwife brand tinned fish — is Faire.
Faire is a digital marketplace transforming the way retailers — and ultimately, consumers — discover and shop high-quality products from emerging Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands around the world. It’s also a platform I happen to be on.
As someone who wholesales their products and, as we learned in my last newsletter, loves buying themself a little treat, this article truly sits at the intersection of all of my interests.
In the article, Emily Sundberg poses that internet-based brands are “small washing” i.e., positioning themselves as a small business and showing up on shelves in our neighborhoods, even though they “still use global supply infrastructure” and that Faire is providing the framework for these brands and redefining what it means to be small.
The CQ’s Kira McCroden compares this to how Spotify “unleashed exposure for small- to mid-sized artists amid a time while indie music was becoming wildly popular — and similarly, when indie artists cracked The Top 40 or played at Coachella, people were confused and even a bit emotional.” Read the rest of her response here.
But is being an online brand such a bad thing? The truth is that so many DTC brands and online-only businesses need retail to have longevity and it’s a symbiotic relationship between these trendy brands and the cute curated shops that house them all. For a fan of the brand on Instagram, these “shoppy shops” are sometimes the only place in their neighborhood where they can buy it.
And while there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, in my opinion, the option to purchase a fancy little chocolate bar from a local business and support my local economy appeals way more than purchasing the same product from Whole Foods and supporting…well…
Maybe overpaying for tinned fish in a boutique store is a little like buying designer makeup — allowing us to experience luxury at an affordable price point, even though it's overpriced for what it is.
Convenience stores in North America are evolving and smaller grocers are adapting to their communities lifestyles and environmental needs. What was once the go-to for a late night craving, gallon of milk, or guilty pleasure now typically carries enough essentials to make at least one meal, fresh organic produce and even healthier snacks. Ultimately, we’re living through a post-pandemic shift in how we shop and a resurgence for wanting to look at things in person.
After two years of a global pandemic, maybe we do all need “a place where you can touch all the products you see on Instagram.”
Faire’s algorithm recommends products to retailers based on the items they’ve searched for, purchased, and clicked on. It even offers quizzes to learn more about each business. For an artist like me, it’s a great way to increase my product’s exposure, reduce traveling needs to spend more time on immediate tasks, and gather analytics and feedback to improve my business.
One of the driving forces behind pausing my in-person markets and taking a break from selling directly to customers is the fact that I’m not a brick and mortar. Wholesale allows me to increase my visibility through curated shops around the world, reach new communities, and build strong relationships with shop owners. If someone can shop my work from a small business and I can save time, space and resources, everyone wins. Plus, storing product in a two-bedroom apartment and 8x10 studio space was getting a little out of control…
Ultimately, it’s up to shop owners to curate a selection that’s unique, on-brand, and impactful for the community they’re serving. A balance is required as to not endanger supply chains and to support local ecosystems of artisans (from a social, environmental, and economic perspective.) Instead of purchasing the same top recommended brands on Faire, shop owners could select a variety of much smaller, lesser known businesses and provide them with a platform to grow and potentially see the same level of success as that olive oil brand.
II~ Lost in the Shoppy Shop
This past weekend I spent a day in Boston and, because I’m easily influenced by Condé Nast food stylists, I made a special effort to visit Momma’s in Cambridge. Momma’s is a neighborhood wine & provisions shop supporting LGBTQ & BIPOC farmers, and housing products sourced from all around New England. In other words, Momma’s is a “shoppy shop” done right.
Momma’s prides themself on stocking environmentally conscious, local, low-waste and delicious products and being a gathering space for community events, wine tastings and developing strong relationships with the brands they stock and the farmers they work with.
And while, in her article, Sundberg made the chilling statement that all brands feel local because we live on the internet, I think it’s important for businesses to carry items that make them unique or special, feel on brand, or at least inspire, whether that’s “stocking local” or “bringing a little extra joy to every meal”
The shop provides a platform to up-and-coming brands like Sweet Deliverance and neighbors like Bart's Ice Cream.
What sets Momma’s apart from other “shoppy shops”? To start, they have personal relationships with most of their purveyors. “Honestly, most of my work is direct with the maker. I meet them where they ask, they shop to me… that’s how it works for us.” owner, Danielle Pattavina, says.
When asked if they’re on Faire, she says she “reluctantly uses Faire and mostly because a few makers [Momma’s] works with have moved to that platform.” Momma’s currently sources around 8% or less of product through Faire. Of that 8%, only about 1-2% are random.
NOTE: After posting, I was able to chat with the owner of Momma’s to confirm sourcing practices. Previously, it was not known whether Momma’s uses Faire or digital platforms for product sourcing. After chatting, I confirmed around 8% of sourcing is done through Faire, with some communication to Farmers conducted through Mable. Some parts of this article have been modified to reflect this. NOTE: After posting, I was able to chat with the owner of Momma’s to confirm sourcing practices. Previously, it was not known whether Momma’s uses Faire or digital platforms for product sourcing. After chatting, I confirmed around 8% of sourcing is done through Faire, with some communication to Farmers conducted through Mable. Some parts of this article have been modified to reflect this.
I have started a series of Instagram Reels where I highlight shops carrying my art! Check out one of my newest stockists: Moon + Arrow! Click this link to view the reel on Instagram.
I got some new headshots taken by the incredible Leah Carter. You can view some of the stunning portraits & lifestyle shots on my website!
I went to my local Italian grocers and drew some of the delicacies with my new Riso brush pack from RetroSupply Co.
My partner and I both upgraded our desk set up in our shared home office using wood desk tops and trestles from IKEA. I’m really loving the cozy, warm, glowy vibe and so far I feel really motivated to work here! Dont worry, I still have my studio at Running With Scissors — I just like doing all my design/content creation and admin work at home.
The Annual Running With Scissors 6x6 Show opens October 7th at Belleflower Brewing as part of Maine Craft Weekend. Three of my paintings will be on exhibition (and for sale.) These are my very first paintings…ever…and a lot of love, nervousness, and child-like curiosity went into them. Say hi from 5-7 PM. Bring your dog. Be kind.