From Virtual to Physical: Web3 Enters Retail Industry with High Hopes


Web3Do Web3 brands need physical locations as Solana spaces are introducing us to one

Web3 is beginning to take shape in the real world. According to a recent tweet, the Solana Foundation, a non-profit based in Switzerland that promotes the decentralization, expansion, and security of the Solana network, opened a permanent physical retail store called Solana Spaces at Hudson Yards in Manhattan. The store sells crypto-themed merchandise and has several stations dedicated to introducing people to Web3, such as a private booth where people can set up their Phantom wallet and record their seed phrase in private.

Other stations offer educational materials about NFT projects such as STEPN and marketplaces such as Magic Eden, and visitors can even try out Solana’s Web3 mobile phone Solana Saga. Customers can also purchase shirts, sweatshirts, and hats with popular crypto phrases such as “WAGMI” and “not financial advice.” The store also has a physical gallery display of Solana’s first million-dollar NFT collection, Degenerate Ape Academy. Solana Spaces intends to feature new merchandise and brand collaborations that will be updated regularly.


Connecting Web3 to Real Life

While it may appear strange at first, having a physical location for a Web3 organization is a fantastic idea for several reasons: For starters, having a physical store increases a company’s brand exposure, especially if it’s in a high-traffic area like Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Having that physical presence is equivalent to sending out a store-sized Web3 calling card into the world. Second, doing so could help to alleviate much of the fear and uncertainty that non-Web3-initiated people have about crypto and NFTs. Walking into a well-lit, welcoming physical store environment is far less stressful and more familiar to crypto skeptics than setting up a Metamask wallet on your laptop alone after reading about yet another NFT scam.


Connecting Web3 to Real Life

The Solana Foundation, however, is not the first organization to put itself out there in this manner.  Salvatore Ferragamo, the Italian luxury brand, opened the Ferragamo Soho Concept store in New York in June. Visitors were able to mint one of 256 NFTs by entering an in-store mirrored installation. Once inside, a camera snapped a photo of whatever was inside the installation, and visitors could turn that photo into an NFT. While not identical to Solana Spaces, it shares the concept of providing people with something tangible to interact with while remaining Web3-focused.

While Web3 is inherently digital, it cannot remain so indefinitely. Indeed, increasing its physical points of contact with the conventional world could hasten Web3’s mainstream acceptance. While only time will tell how well Solana Spaces performs, physical stores that demystify Web3 for the general public could play an important, unanticipated role in wider Web3 adoption.