This week, Nicki went live with Aoife of Appear Here, an online service helping brands find retail spaces to use both temporarily and on a long-term basis. They chatted about how Appear Here works, its vast database of spaces and its mission to connect many smaller brands with landlords in an effort to regenerate high-streets in a post-pandemic UK…
Tell us a little bit about Appear Here
Essentially, we are an online marketplace who connect brands to amazing spaces around the UK, and further afield in places such as Paris, New York, Miami and LA. We get to work with amazing brands, from smaller independents all the way up to the big guys like Nike and Depop. I work predominantly with smaller traders and brands who are just getting started on their journey into retail, food and beverages and other services they might be offering.
How can we, as a community, regenerate the high street?
This is obviously something we’re so so passionate about! At Appear Here, our mission is all about supporting young brands and making their ideas happen, and over the last few months particularly, we’ve seen the high-streets around central London but also around smaller neighbourhoods really decline. We’re working alongside landlords to try and solve the problem and for us I think its a huge opportunity – brands who perhaps would have been overlooked before in terms of operating in great high-street spaces are now in a great time to go and trade. Landlords are offering much more flexible terms because know that this is the way forward, with seeing bigger chains disappearing from our high-streets.
I think from a local community perspective, local high-streets depend so much on the communities surrounding them. For me, where I live in South London, I make a huge effort to buy from smaller brands, whether it’s buying my coffee from an independent brand or trying to avoid Amazon. It’s so much easier said than done, but things like supporting my local book shop or even buying presents for family help to support the smaller guys.
At Appear Here, we’re all about supporting bricks and mortar and having that in real life connection – online just doesn’t compare. We love brands like A South London Makers Market, who recently did an in-real-life pop-up in Selfridges. They’re a makers platform, very much like Pedddle, who support brands from the UK and over the last couple of months they’ve managed to build up an incredible community of small brands and not just the sellers’ side but also the buyers’ side, and bring them together in real life. I think transitioning that from online to physical is so important for a brand, and there’s a lot to be said for meeting customers in real life and getting direct feedback face-to-face. For me, as a customer, I love when I can get out and meet the brand and the product, and see the person who’s making whatever it is I’m buying.
This is a bigger question around who, what, where and when. Who would benefit from your database of spaces? Do you have an ideal client? What is the criteria? How does the process work? How long does it take?
All you need to do is come to us with a really solid understanding of what the product or service is that you’re offering, what your audience is, your budget and what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Not everyone that comes to us is trying to make lots of sales – some people that come to us are looking to test a product or bring a community together. They might be looking to connect to a particular moment, whether that’s seasonal or throughout the year, or create an experience. For example, when we work with artists, they might book a space to do a live demonstration which is always really cool.
If you’re still working a regular office job or a 9 to 5, and say on the weekend you want to fulfil your dreams of opening your own bakery, we can help you do that. Even by just doing something on the weekend to begin with, testing it out in different locations and seeing what works best for you. It’s great in terms of the flexibility and being able to try out lots of different spaces at a really low risk until you find something that really works for you and make it work long-term.
Alongside helping everyone make their ideas happen, Appear Here was set up to remove the huge barriers to entry that brands face when trying to access spaces on the high-street. Our mission is to make booking a shop as easy as booking a hotel room – you see a space, you like it, you go down and view it potentially (Sometimes, brands just trust our opinion that it’s a great space!), you sign online for a contract and you pay online. You can end up getting your keys the very same day – it’s very fast and if you have a good idea of what you’re looking for we can make it happen pretty speedily!
Some spaces come completely white-boxed, which is perfect for brands who have a clear design vision and know how they want it to look. Other spaces work better for brands who are only going in for 1-2 days and don’t want to spend huge amounts of money fitting out a space, because it’s already there for them. We also have an addition service, from which we can help you rent things like rails, mirrors and cash desks, so setting up shop is as easy as possible.
How do your markets work?
For the markets that we run, generally everything is provided for you including your stall, which we get made bespoke. All you need to do is come to us and tell us what location would suit you best, provide us with some really good imagery of what it is you’re looking to sell, and we curate the market, bringing traders together and make sure there are no conflicting offers. We’ve got a couple of regional locations that we’re going to launch soon. The first one is in Poole and we’re hoping to launch that in August. To apply, the easiest way to get in touch with us is by contacting us at [email protected] and we can get back to you with more information.
What advice would you give to someone searching for a space to hire via AH?
As a platform, Appear Here has a selection of thousands and thousands of shops, so I think if it’s your very first time, the best thing to do is to talk to one of our expert sales team. When you come to us with a specific audience in mind and a spending power of X, they can direct you to exactly where we know brands with this particular profile perform the best, and then recommend shops or locations to you based on that. We’ve launched over 10 thousand shops now, so from all that data, we’ve gathered a pretty good understanding of where you’ll do best based on what you’re offering.
If you take a look at our online spaces and find one which you like, once you click Submit Interest, there’s no commitment and one of our sales team will be directly in touch with you. Or, if you have no idea where to start, all you need to do is email us at [email protected] and we can help get you started.
To watch Nicki and Aoife’s IG Live on our IGTV channel, click here.