South Boston’s burgeoning Seaport neighborhood is anything but retro. A constantly developing maze of mirrored glass and steel, the Seaport is a bastion of newness and forward-thinking, and one of its newest storefronts fits neatly into the future of the neighborhood.
Kaity Cimo and Katharine Requa opened For Now, a modern boutique on Seaport Blvd., at the beginning of December. Referred to as a pop-up collective, For Now is host to a rotating selection of emerging brands, effectively bringing their wares from an online forum to a physical brick and mortar space. The store carries more than a dozen brands that had been, until finding a home at For Now, available mostly online. For Now addresses the basic need of a retail start-up endeavor: getting product in front of a real live audience.
For Now was born out of the consulting work that Cimo and Requa had been doing before the the idea of a store was even a twinkle. After listening constantly to clients’ concerns about the hardships of reaching customers or trouble finding wholesale deals, a store seemed like a natural solution to the problem of small brand visibility.
“In the past four, five days, everyone in here is so excited that they can touch and feel things, and have reiterated that they’ve gone to buy things online but then don’t because they don’t know what it feels like or what it’s going to look like,” says Requa. “This concept is solving that problem for them.”
The lofty space feels more like an art gallery than a retail store, but that’s the point. Minimalist and modular, For Now provides a setting that both highlights the brands in rotation and creates a streamlined shopping experience for the customer.
“We’re sort of in a two-fold business where we have customers but we also have clients,” says Requa. “Creating a space that makes the product look good but isn’t confusing to customers was something we definitely labored over.”
For Now currently carries about a dozen small-batch brands, and Cimo and Requa hope to swap in new brands every two to three months. From New England-based clothiers Emerson Fry and Alice Walk to Virginia’s CCH Collection and Onward Reserve of Georgia, For Now strives to foster the vital relationship between a brand and its customers.
“It’s not just about sales,” says Cimo. “It really is, over time, building a bigger customer base for the brands.”
In a way, For Now is a microcosm of everything that is new and exciting about the growing Seaport development. Just as the way Boston’s professionals live is always evolving, so too is the way that customers are shopping. The last few years have seen a dramatic spike in supporting small, local brands. In the wake of the rise of big e-commerce sites, more customers are again seeking a more personal shopping experience.
“I think that people are craving a connection,” says Requa. “We’re highly connected these days but I don’t think we’re forming any sort of deep bonds or relationships. I think when it comes to things you’re going to wear every day, or gifts, you want it to be a more meaningful process.”
Cimo and Requa set out to create a space that reflected the current retail climate, a curated, of-the-moment shop that provides a frequently updated roster of small brands. Even the name, For Now, was originally a place holder until it morphed into something meaningful and entirely appropriate for the store’s role as a retail incubator.
“In this industry and probably every industry, especially in the start-up world, you have to be good with what works in this moment in time or else you’ll be stalled forever,” says Cimo. “Decision paralysis.”
As our interview wraps up, a couple comes through the door, breathless from the cold, exclaiming, “We were shocked to see a store here. A cute store!”
“We’re a cute store!” says Requa, clearly pleased with the feedback.
For Now may have just opened, but it already seems that the strategy of building a broader customer base for emerging brands in a tactile environment is a fresh approach to retail that will stand the test of time. Much like sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s theory of the “third space,” For Now cultivates an interactive gathering place for both clients and customers, to the benefit of all.
For Now is located at 68 Seaport Blvd. in the Seaport.
Photos via www.fairfolk.com