Firebox "here to rescue the High Street"

With its first pop-up stores in Newcastle and Watford already performing well, quirky gift, toy and game retailer Firebox is confident it will re-energise the UK's High Street in 2016 and beyond.
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Online retailer and quirky gift chandler Firebox has outlined its mission to rescue a UK High Street in need ‘of new innovation.’

Having traded as an online only platform for the last 17 years, the unique vendor has made its move to the High Street with the launch of its first bricks and mortar pop-up stores.

The move – that sees the retailer occupy sites in Watford and Newcastle until January 2016, with more in the pipeline – has been championed as part of Firebox’s mission to reinvigorate the High Street by ‘offering customers today what they need more of: something unusual.’

“We are here to rescue the High Street,” Kristian Bromley, Firebox MD told ToyNews exclusively. “Everywhere is so generic, every shopping centre has the same retailers doing the same things. We think it’s time to inject a shop for the unusual into the mix and bring some fun and excitement to bricks and mortar retail.”

Still relatively unknown territory for the retailer, Firebox hopes that with its offering of unusual products, from party games such as Obama Llama to Unicorn Tears Gin or a book on crafting with cat hair, it will lure consumers back to buying from physical stores.

“We are ambitious and we genuinely think we can provide something the High Street is lacking: a bit of excitement, energy and something different,” continued Bromley.

“The High Street needs us, and hopefully if the mood is right and the feedback from customers is as we hope, we will look to further develop our High- Street presence in 2016.”

Adopting the pop- up shop model in both Newcastle and Watford, Firebox is looking to test consumer reaction to the retailer’s High Street move, while demonstrating its ability to adapt to the changing retail landscape.

“E-commerce has changed the high street forever,” explained Bromley. “This doesn’t mean that High Street shopping has had its day, far from it, it just needs to be a lot more flexible today.

“Retailers need to be more innovative and inventive with their High Street product offering now and provide a much more unique consumer experience in-store.

“Pop-up shops and show rooms are cool ways of bringing a brand to life.”

Of course, the pop-up model is also an effective way of allowing the online store to test the High Street without the risking long-term commitment.

“The retail climate is well suited to the pop-up model, meaning we have more opportunity to dip our toe and discover how our products look and feel to customers in the real world,” said Bromley.

Now as Christmas 2015 approaches, Firebox reports a positive reaction from consumers, with both customers already familiar with its online format and a new customer base engaging with its offering. It’s good news for the trader who highlights the current unpredictability of the retail landscape.

“Black Friday has skewed consumer behavior and shoppers now wait to see what deals they can get in late November and early December,” said Bromley.

“That said, there is more than enough unusual people with a sense of humour out there, and since you can’t get the Firebox experience in any other store, we’re what the world needs.

“We want to continue to grow the business profitably, develop our brand and voice and have lot of fun,” he concluded.

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