A store solely dedicated to real, crowdfunded products is opening in the US this year. We The People started in Singapore two years ago, and it now operates five outlets in the country. This St. Louis, Missouri-based outpost will be the first North American location. It’ll be located inside the West County Mall and will open in December, although the company will host a pop-up preview starting on November 16th in what’ll eventually become its permanent retail space.
We The People won’t just sell crowdfunded tech products, but other things that came up through that funding method, too, including toys, puzzles, and home goods. You can get a sense of the goods the company sells in its online store, but right now, it lists items from Flyte, Bragi, and other, smaller startups.
We The People’s intense focus on crowdfunding comes at a fraught time for the industry. Lots of crowdfunded gadgets have failed to ship, and, anecdotally, backers seem to be losing enthusiasm. (Read my crowdfunding column to get a better idea of their disappointment.) Still, it certainly would benefit the platforms and creators if stores like We The People succeed. Potential customers could verify that the product they see online is real and works. That could then entice them to purchase it, even if the campaign has already ended.
Other stores stock crowdfunded gadgets, but not as their main vision and selling point. B8ta, for instance, runs a bunch of retail stores around the US that sell electronics and other goods, some of which came up through crowdfunding. You can find multiple crowdfunded gadgets in more conventional retail stores, too, like Apple, Best Buy, or Target. A key difference between their strategies and We The People’s is that the latter also wants to serve as a community hub for creators. It currently hosts something called “live-funding” in Singapore where creators can show off their prototypes in-store while their campaign is still live. Potential backers can meet the team, assess the product, and back it in the store if they feel inclined. That’s unique. More traditional retailers tend to take an interest in crowdfunded devices post-campaign, and only once the creators already have a firm business strategy.
If nothing else, We The People’s new store sounds like a fun one to check out, if only to play with some gadgets that typically live on the web.