Revolver Retail have opened the doors to ‘Rex’, a concept department store in Liverpool city centre. Housed in the George Henry Lee building, ‘Rex’ allows independent traders the opportunity to benefit from a shared retail space.
By offering each retailer as much, or as little space as they can manage; Revolver are hoping to foster those taking their first steps into retail and provide an environment for existing businesses to grow.
Ahead of the launch I caught up with Matt Bell, the visionary behind Revolver, to find out more. When I dropped in unannounced, he and the team were still hard at work building the space. I was hoping to find out why he thinks Liverpool should pay any attention to a new store opening.
There is hardly a shortage of shops in the city. So, what’s the reason for opening another, and why should anyone care?
“Some people are so close to having a good idea; it just takes a little tweak to get it right”, he told me.
I was thinking this all sounds very philanthropic. “Like some sort of social enterprise?”
Matt is not really into that idea, “If you’re making money, it’s not a social enterprise, it’s just a normal business … You can do nice things and be a normal business. At the end of the day, we’ve got to pay the bills and these people have to make some money.”
Well, yeah. But, for Matt and the guys at Revolver, the idea goes further than just utilising the dead space of Rapid’s huge Basnett St basement. Their mission is to facilitate creators, designers and entrepreneurs to become retailers; and help others, who are already in the game, expand.
“The real sort of benefit comes from the people who can train them all up. People struggle because they don’t know how to expand and do their accounts. We’ve got that support network built up; and that’s the important part, to make it all sustainable”.
Development is very much the message I was feeling. Not just in terms of allowing junior retailers to hit the road with a set of stabilisers attached. Sure, they can learn and make mistakes when the stakes are low; but they can also grow by a square foot at a time, if that’s what they need.
The guys have really taken the ‘box store’ notion to the extreme! Rex’s centrepiece is, no surprise, a giant box. It just so happens to open up to become a stage to be used for performance, promotions…. Basically, whatever anyone can fill it with.
Revolver Retail recently were winners in the ‘Best Original Start-Up’ category at the Merseyside Independent Business Awards.
Check out @RexLiverpool and @RevolverRetail on Twitter