HiO, a new retail concept in Brooklyn is testing the idea that consumers will find value in discovering new brands through a brick-and-mortar experience. The concept brings together 9 brands, including 8 international brands, many of whom are making their US debut. The concept opened earlier this year in the City Point Shopping Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY.
HiO is owned by Direct Brands Group, a business formed in 2017 to serve as an intermediary for international companies and e-commerce brands looking to open bricks-and-mortar locations in North America.
While many international brands are eager to gain share in the US market, waves of store closings and bankruptcies add an air of trepidation to the mix. These micro-mall concepts offer to hedge the risk for brands, giving them brick-and-mortar exposure without the high fixed costs associated with opening their own retail store.
HiO is aiming to expand beyond New York, opening a pop-up in Toronto’s Sherway Gardens shopping center, and looking to expand to several additional locations in 2019. The timing is right as there is a record amount of commercial real estate going dark in 2018. But HiO isn’t the only player in the space.
Macy’s is testing a similar concept with their Market@Macy’s concept, allowing international retailers to buy display space on the main floor of several prominent Macy’s stores throughout the country. Bulletin, a social impact-oriented retailer curates items from small, female-owned companies within three stores in the New York metropolitan area. While each of these competitors focuses on providing a brick-and-mortar solution, HiO seems uniquely focused on introducing customers to new brands, which they’re hoping will pay off in the long-run.