Solana Spaces CEO Vibhu Norby said the new physical Solana stores will introduce up to 100,000 people per month to the Solana ecosystem while also signaling plans to open a virtual storefront in the near future.
Utilizing a grant from the Solana Foundation, the first Solana Spaces shop opened in the swanky Hudson Yards New York shopping center on Thursday.
Addressing the community in an impromptu Twitter AMA on launch day, Norby explained the store is meant to teach new users about how to use decentralized applications (DApps) and noted that it would be introducing thousands of people into the Solana blockchain:
“I don’t think people realize this but we’re going to bring 50 to 100,000 people into Solana every month through these stores — and that’s just this year.”
Speaking to Cointelegraph in a phone interview following the AMA, Norby said the shop had 400 visitors, hinting also that new United States-based physical stores were in the works, and that “the store was designed for people who are brand new to blockchain.”
Solana is home to over a thousand DApps, ranging from trading platforms, gaming and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to social media.
Solana Spaces NYC is now open: https://t.co/jZcZ99l5Cj— Solana Spaces (@solanaspaces) July 28, 2022
We’re the world’s first retail & educational space dedicated to Web3.
Brought to you in collaboration with @solanafndn, and partners @phantom, @stepnofficial, @orca_so, @magiceden, @metaplex, @degenapeacademy and more. pic.twitter.com/VoKnrIMmWP
While it is technically a store that sells a limited series of Solana-based merchandise, it mainly serves as a retail-as-a-service tutorial hub where new users receive free instructional sessions on how to set up a crypto wallet and connect to various DApps:
“It’s not a store designed to be a place where you buy things. It’s a store designed to be an educational experience. We do sell merch, Solana socks and hoodies and other fun things, but that isn’t the main point of it.”
Retail-as-a-service refers to stores that serve as showrooms for the products that customers can buy online. This encourages the demonstration of the products and reduces the inventory requirements.
Norby added that the people who will get the most out of the shop are those who have little to no exposure to blockchain. He said that half of the patrons who visited on launch day either had some exposure to Ether (ETH) or Bitcoin (BTC) or had no idea what any of it was. He said:
“You don’t need to be here unless you want the sick merch. If you are trading NFTs full time, there’s only so much value we can offer.”
So far, shoppers have reacted positively to the new shop. Reciprocal venture capital partner Craig Burel called it “pretty epic” in a Twitter post on Thursday, echoing the impressions of other shoppers.
IRL @solanaspaces is next level pic.twitter.com/0KljKm11sr— Austin Federa | sms (@Austin_Federa) July 28, 2022
The Solana Foundation helped fund the launch of the shop with a grant, but each tutorial is sponsored by a project running on the blockchain. Notably, Stepn, Orca, Solana Pay, Metaplex and Magic Eden are currently hosting tutorials at the shop. Customers receive an NFT for completing a tutorial.
While Solana Spaces launched its first branch on Thursday, Norby hinted that a virtual store was also in development along with other physical stores. He also added that he eventually wanted stores in every country around the world.
Related: Solana said to be ‘more decentralized than people think,’ but there’s more
Solana is in the process of expanding access to its network through the new store and a new Android mobile device called the Saga. Cointelegraph reported on June 24 that reactions to the new phone were generally positive, with one person even calling Web3’s “iPhone moment.”