When it comes to holiday pop-ups in New York, Wired has perhaps the longest-running example, with a platform introduced in 2005 that has expanded to include a broader range of products, numerous activities for visitors through sponsors, and a slate of private and public events. This year, the Condé Nast technology title debuted its biggest Wired Store yet, occupying 10,000 square feet inside the Times Square space that previously housed ESPN Zone.
The temporary brick-and-mortar shop, which carries all manner of gadgets—from a 24-carat gold plated Atari video game console and a 96-inch television framed in walnut, steel, brass, and python skin, to a typewriter that connects to an iPad and a battery-powered heated windbreaker—opened to the public November 18 and will run through Christmas Eve.
Although past years have seen the Wired Store pop up in downtown locales, including the West Village, the meatpacking district, and SoHo, the magazine was not consciously looking to bring the 2011 iteration to a more central site.
“Every year we hunt for the best location, keeping all kinds of criteria in mind,” said Maya Draisin, Wired magazine's associate publisher of marketing. “Regardless of the neighborhood, we're always looking for high foot traffic, good visibility, and the square footage to support 250-plus products, back-of-house production space, and a stage—oh, and being able to fit/hold the Buick! We got lucky this year with the space at 42nd Street and Broadway; it met all our needs and then some, and had the added bonus of being right next door [to the Condé Nast headquarters].”
However, the venue didn't come without some logistical difficulties for the organizers and MKG, the event agency tapped to produce the pop-up this year. “The store begins as a blank canvas that we have to transform in two to three weeks,” added Draisin. “That part we do every year. This space was particularly challenging in that it came in only two weeks out, is so large, and was completely raw. ESPN had pulled everything out. We had to build infrastructure before even considering decor elements and product placement—within two weeks. Timing was definitely our biggest hurdle.”
Nevertheless, having a much larger presence enabled Wired to bring in larger interactive installations and more events. “It gives us a lot of flexibility,” said Draisin. “In prior years we had to close the space early or disrupt the products to accommodate events. [With a dedicated space on the second floor] ... people can have the full store experience and a completely unique experience for the event—and a view of Times Square very few have seen already.”
Public and private functions this year include demo days, a music spotlight series, and a reception for the photo exhibit from Norman Reedus of AMC's The Walking Dead.
The square footage also gave the team more room for the product vignettes, which, like last year, are modeled after personality types, including “adventure capitalist,” “gastronaut,” “I.T. girl,” and “smarter upstarter,” as well as sections curated by Etsy and Kickstarter.