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Report on Business Shopify opens first brick-and-mortar spot, aiming to help entrepreneurs grow their online businesses

The exterior of Shopify's first brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles.

Shopify/The Canadian Press

When Shopify Inc. opens its first brick-and-mortar space for the public Thursday, it won’t be crammed with aisles of products that the Ottawa-based company helps its 600,000 merchants sell.

The small selection of merchandise the location will showcase from primarily U.S.-based merchants – a term Shopify uses to describe the companies using its offerings – will only be available for purchase online.

Instead, Satish Kanwar, Shopify’s vice-president of product, said the brand’s first physical experience in a bustling Los Angeles spot will be focused on building a community and helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

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He said Shopify intends to host workshops, talks and other events aimed at solving the biggest challenges Shopify merchants face. Merchants will be able to book in-person appointments with Shopify staff and pick up some of the hardware Shopify offers. Visiting merchants will also get access to retail consultants for product demos and hardware and software set up.

On top of nurturing budding entrepreneurs at every level, Kanwar said the space at Row DTLA – a historic district filled with shops, restaurant and offices – will help Shopify to attract new merchants.

“Our focus is on building a global company and we have always had an amazing and large presence of merchants in the U.S., but there is absolutely room for us to grow and create more entrepreneurs,” he said.

Already, Shopify said it has 10,000 merchants in Los Angeles alone and 80,000 in California.

The interior of the first brick-and-mortar Shopify location.

HO/The Canadian Press

The retail zone of the first brick-and-mortar Shopify location.

HO/The Canadian Press

Shopify’s focus on physical support for retailers comes amid slowing growth. Year-over-year revenue grew by 62 per cent in the company’s second quarter, down from 68 per cent the quarter before and 75 per cent in the first quarter of 2017.

Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s chief operating officer, previously told The Canadian Press at the company’s annual Unite conference that the brick-and-mortar space wasn’t targeted at addressing slowed growth, but at aiding partners and merchants.

At the time, he didn’t say whether Shopify will explore additional bricks-and-mortar spaces if the L.A. space is a success.

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Kanwar didn’t offer more details about whether bricks-and-mortar will figure into Shopify’s playbook in more markets moving forward, but said the company was seeing a flurry of bookings for events and workshops.

“There are no confirmed plans for opening other locations right now, but we are really excited about the kind of response we have seen.”

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