Shlomo Chopp doesn’t mind stepping out of the box and being told his ideas won’t work, or even being slightly outcast as the “village idiot.” He is fine with the naysayers because he knows when he has an idea worth pursuing and one that has the potential to change the way e-retailers grow a physical location.
That’s what Chopp has in Anchor Shops, a proposed location within Fashion District Philadelphia where companies can start a physical location without the start-up costs of diving headfirst into a brick-and-mortar. Chopp brought on Ryan Wolf, who has a deep background working in retail, including heading up Banana Republic-Europe and actress Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. ShopFulfill, a nationally distributed, collaborative network of retail and logistics infrastructure, is powering Anchor Shops.
The original plans were to open the shop in late April, but due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, the opening date has been pushed back to July, at the earliest.
Still, plans are moving forward, which also includes setting up a warehouse for the tenants at the former Macy’s store at Moorestown Mall, 11 miles away in Moorestown, New Jersey. With the warehouse, retailers at Anchor Shops can easily store merchandise for a fraction of the cost of market rate warehouse space. Chopp expects rent for retailers to start at $600 per month, depending on the amount of space they occupy. Included in the rent charges is space in the warehouse as well.
Chopp says that if a consumer has ever asked him- or herself, “Why can’t I find this really great product I saw online in the mall?” the answer is simple: The retailer doesn’t have the ability to set themselves up with the cost involved with a space larger than they need, build out a staffing system and planning how to set up two systems for the physical location and e-commerce.
Chopp says that if a retailer sells 20 items, it doesn’t make sense for that retailer to own and operate a brick-and-mortar or a warehouse. If they get together with 60 other retailers who sell 20 items, then it starts to add up.
“Four years ago, I was the village idiot,” says Chopp. “It’s good to hear people say, ‘OK I get it now.’”
Additionally, Chopp says that due to the localization of the fulfillment center, products will be delivered 60 percent quicker and 40 percent cheaper for the retailers. Chopp wants to open 12 such concepts in the Northeast, which serves as a commitment to wanting to cut the costs for tenants.
“As we rollout localized fulfillment centers, lower shipping costs will hold true for every market,” he says.
Chopp says that wanting to debut Anchor Shops at Fashion District Philadelphia was two-fold: First, he says, the demographics are what he was looking for as far as median household income and the market crosses ethnic lines. Second, Chopp was excited to work with PREIT, the developer and owner of Fashion District Philadelphia and Moorestown Mall.
“PREIT has a visionary team and those guys are out ahead of it,” says Chopp. “There is a clear-cut line between PREIT as a company compared to other mall operators. I’ll say that until the cows come home.”
Chopp says that while his main reason for Anchor Shops is to help retailers, the concept is also meant to cultivate ideas and “sleepy brands” are not up to the standard.
“Because we have the power of many, we are able to go across multiple markets and not worry if we have enough stock,” explains Chopp.