Touch and go: Shoppers can see items at the Etsy shop in Castlereagh Street before buying online. Photo: Ben Rushton
In a reversal of the usual scenario of bricks-and-mortar stores selling products over the internet, the online marketplace Etsy has set up a shop in the heart of Sydney.
The pop-up shop, showcasing handmade pieces from tepees to painted toadstools, opened last week alongside the high-end retailers of Castlereagh Street.
It features a gallery of gift items, almost all made in Australia, curated by local interior designers and bloggers and available for purchase online.
Etsy's Australian marketing manager Kirsteene Phelan said the pop-up shop, open until December 12 in space rented by Etsy, would highlight the work of local artists, jewellers and craft makers and introduce a new audience to the website.
''It's good [for buyers] to see the product and what's available, offline and in store,'' Ms Phelan said. Sellers were reporting increased online traffic within hours of the shop opening, she said.
Established in 2005, Etsy has 1 million sellers and 30 million users worldwide. Its promotion of handmade and vintage items has tapped into the ongoing consumer backlash against generic, mass-produced goods.
Interior stylist Jason Grant, one of the shop's curators, said people were looking for interesting, individual items. ''People are more discerning about what they have in their homes,'' he said. ''It's a natural thing when for so long the things we see are everywhere and mass produced; people crave things that tell a story or are more reflective of their personality.''
David Waller, a senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Technology, Sydney, said pop-up stores were increasingly used to build brand awareness, rather than taking advantage of vacant shopfronts. ''It's becoming more of a longer-term strategy,'' he said.
''If you've got stores that are only open for two weeks, there can be a buzz about them.''
Shoppers looking for a unique gift can also visit the Design Files Open House, a residential home at 5 Bennett Place, Surry Hills, between Thursday and Sunday.
The house has been styled by the creators of the popular the Design Files blog, and everything in it - from bed linen to books, kitchenware to lighting - is for sale.
Opening a shop, particularly before Christmas, was a clever move, Dr Waller said.
''Having an online store suddenly become a real store is a good strategy for them,'' he said.
''For a target market that is not necessarily online all the time, for the older target market, having a pop-up store would be great to build awareness of that brand.''
Mackenzie Fong, 23, and her mother Una were among those browsing the wares on the first day.
''I like how they are one-of-a-kind pieces, things you wouldn't be able to find at the larger chain department stores,'' she said.