The famed holiday windows of Saks Fifth Avenue are getting some digital competition from PayPal on Friday.
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The electronic payment company has opened a real-life storefront on New York's busiest shopping thoroughfare, unveiling a set of huge window displays that showcase the stories of five pre-selected small businesses.
The storefront at West 44th Street and Fifth Avenue could give new meaning to the term "window shopping." While pedestrians can't actually go inside the store, they can window shop to learn about each company and scan QR codes with their mobile devices that will direct them to the websites where they can make a purchase.
“The interactive shopping experience will not only tell shoppers more about these amazing small businesses and the work they do for the causes and communities they care about,” PayPal wrote in a blog post, but the shopping windows will also “connect shoppers with thoughtfully made gifts from thoughtfully owned businesses for every loved one on their list.”
The stores and businesses making the "move" to Fifth Avenue via Pay Pal are:
- Hazel VillageHazel Village, an independently owned children’s toy shop based in Brooklyn, New York, that makes organic, handmade woodland animals and dolls. The shop partners with organizations that provide niche artists with assignments to make handcrafted toys. In 2018, Americans spent more than $3 billion on toy dolls.
- Askinosie Chocolate is a direct-trade chocolate maker that sources cocoa beans from local farmers in the Philippines, Ecuador, Tanzania and the Amazon. The company said it pays its farmers an average of 55 percent above the world market price. Americans spend a whopping $22 million on chocolate each year.
- Block Shop, a female-owned textile business, employs an ancient technique of Indian hand block printing. This is a process where carved wooden blocks covered with dye are repeatedly pressed along fabrics to create patterns. Block Shop also uses a decentralized supply chain to further the small family business ecosystem in India. Each year, the brand invests 5 percent of its profits into community health and empowerment programs in Jaipur.
- Bee Raw is a single-origin honey producer that focuses on persevering the world’s bee population. They make additive-free goods packaged in post-consumer paper and glass. The value of U.S. honey production was around $333 million in 2018.
- Misha and Puff, another female-founded brand, makes hand-knit children’s clothes and supports artists in Peru. U.S. families spend $1,300 on kids’ clothes each year.
PayPal’s pop-up, which will be operational through January 2020, comes at a good time for these small businesses. Americans are expected to spend up to $730 billion on the holidays this year, according to data from the National Retail Federation. That’s up 4 percent from 2018 and more than $1,000 per person. In a study from software firm Womply, which looked at retailers’ transactions nationwide, researchers found that New York state ranked No. 1 among all 50 states in total sales volume from Thanksgiving to Christmas and into the New Year.
Plus, the storefront lands smack in the middle of one of the busiest places in the city: The famed stretch of street features St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, Saks and the festive Bryant Park ice skating rink, which features its own collection of holiday pop-up shops. More than half a million visitors walked up and down the iconic walkways last year, according to social media data analyzed by Thinknum.
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PayPal, which brought in a whopping $15 billion in revenue last year, is no stranger to pop-up attractions. It opened a lower Manhattan storefront in 2011 to showcase its new tools and technologies. And last summer, it opened another promotional spot in the city to educate customers on credit card rewards points, among other digital trends.
And the company has been trending upward: Its stock is up nearly 20 percent on the year.