Photo by Kena Betancur via Getty Images

Turns out these sorts of things could be the key to retail’s future

Tim Nelson
August 15, 2018

If you haven’t posted a selfie from a Museum of Ice Cream pop-up, do you even have an Instagram account? Are you even a real person? Between that space, the avocado museum, and the Hall of Breakfast, food-based “mmmuseums” seem to have a permanent place on our feeds. As it turns out, these places aren’t just about racking up the likes, but raking in cash well.

According to Bloomberg, the Museum of Ice Cream has surpassed one million visitors so far this year across the various locations of its sprawling empire. With tickets going for as much as $38 a pop, they’re clearing tens of millions of dollars in annual ticket revenue alone. That’s not to mention their pop-up Pint Shop for those who actually want to eat ice cream, as well as a licensing agreement that’ll see Museum of Ice Cream-branded pints and apparel in Target locations.

As Bloomberg and other outlets well-versed in the burgeoning field of experiential marketing see it, the Museum of Ice Cream and other pop-ups could serve as a future model for retail through a hybridization of shopping and social media-ready experiences. It’s no secret that the ubiquity and convenience of online shopping means most millennials can’t be bothered to visit brick and mortar locations. But if real-world retail spots were to turn into "content creation opportunities," well, then they might have a greater chance to rackup sales with younger consumers.

“Entertainment is going to be the new anchor,” James Cook of the commercial real estate investment company JLL told Bloomberg. “It’s going to be driving traffic to the shopping centers of the future.”

While singlehandedly saving the concept of a shopping center might be a lot to live up to, there’s no doubt that there are many more Museum of Ice Cream imitators headed our way. New York got its very own “Rosé Mansion” last month, and a Museum of Pizza is scheduled for delivery in October.

There’s no guarantee they’ll parlay their way into mega merchandising deals, especially if the threat of oversaturation leads Millennials and Gen-Zers to seek out more unique experiences. But you can bet that brands and storefronts struggling to stay relevant in these trying times will be lining up to see what happens.

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