Each week we interview one of our extraordinary small businesses who retail with us here at REX, but how did this wonderfully unique and creative idea come to the high street? I sat down with the owners Matt & Gary to discuss...
1. REX is home to over a 100 independent retailers. Who is it most suited to?
There isn't one certain type of brand who is most suited so the answer is everyone! There is such an array of creative talent just waiting to trade on the high street, but unfortunately, prime retail space isn't easily accessible. That is where REX comes in to bridge the gap and bring this talent to the Saturday shopper. You'll see in store that we have independent fashion designers, individually crafted wooden sunglasses, an urban farm and more recently a tech lab/maker space in collaboration with Liverpool University. Where else could you find such a varied selection?!
2. What is a concept store and why did you set one up?
A concept store is anything you want it to be! Its different from the traditional high street store because it stands out and sets itself apart. We've mentioned the variety of businesses that we have in store, but its more than that, its experiential. When you walk into REX, you know that you are walking in somewhere different. Whether its sparks from all the creative talent that the many retailers who call REX home bring to the store, or just the fact that there's always something going on, we like to be a little bit different. We have workshops taking place all the time in store teaching people how to make, create and innovate. We've hosted hen parties, baby showers and cultural events. We have a open door policy, where we'll listen to all sorts of requests to put events in store. If we can then we'll say yes as ultimately it will add to the vibrancy of the store and hopefully benefit the customer and their shopping experience
3. Why Liverpool?
That's easy, its the best city in the world!
4. Tell us about some of your favourite products to date...
Thats a hard question to answer! I think what we most enjoy is the story behind the products. Its meeting someone who has come in with an idea and then watching that idea come to fruition. Setting up a business isn't easy. For someone wanting to start selling their own items, their first port of call is usually the internet but that brings with it its own challenges. The internet is accessible to everyone and it gives you a fantastic opportunity to take your products to the world but that also means you are competing against the rest of the world. The internet is a saturated marketplace where a startup business starts day 1 by competing against Amazon. Hopefully what REX provides to businesses like this is the opportunity to compete against high street retailers but from a prime position. Seeing that journey is the most rewarding part of the store by far.
5. If REX has a theme tune what would it be?
We've got an eclectic bunch at REX and its reflected in the playlist that we have in store, so trying to capture everything that REX is with one song isn't the easiest of tasks, but if you are going to push us then I would have to say Summertime by Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.
6. What does the future hold for REX?
More! More of everything. More fantastic independent retailers, more of their products. Just lots more! We've seen the success of in-store events so far and we want to build on that. We want to create not only a home of independent retail but also a hub of the community. With events taking place in store, it brings people in who might not usually come in and then is when the creative sparks start flying. We take inspiration from wherever we can find it, and since integrating urban farming and digital lab space in store, we're now doing things that aren't happening anywhere else in the country, so we really want to keep that going and stay at the forefront of innovation in retail. We've recently integrated a pay as you feel cereal cafe that benefits Liverpool Homeless FC at the front of the store, so we also want to build on community initiatives like this and help to shape the environment around us for the better.
7. How does one become a retailer at REX Bold Street?
Call, text, email, poke, like, pin, tweet. You name it, we've got it! Social media is our biggest tool for getting our message out there and its also a good point of call for aspiring retailers to contact through. We also have our websites where retailers can fill in an enquiry form. Or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will get the ball rolling. We are as flexible as possible when it comes to space so whatever your idea is, whatever space you need, we'll do our best to make it happen for you!