Solana-Themed Storefronts Close Up Shop, Ending Experiment in IRL Blockchain Evangelism

Solana-Themed Storefronts Close Up Shop, Ending Experiment in IRL Blockchain Evangelism

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Solana Spaces, a company that used storefronts in New York City and Miami to pitch adoption of its namesake blockchain, said in a Tweet on Tuesday that it will close its locations by the end of the month.

The startup reached “an inflection point” in the past two months and will pivot away from physical experiences and into NFTs, CEO Vibhu Norby said in the tweet. He indicated that Solana Spaces will rebrand itself as DRiP, an NFT distribution platform created by Norby, which he also promoted in his stores.

The closing comes seven months after Norby opened Solana Space’s first location in a glitzy mall in New York City’s Hudson Yards. The staff led visitors through interactive stations that taught them how to get started with Solana, from setting up a crypto wallet to trading tokens on a decentralized exchange. Norby later set up a second store in Miami.

About 60,000 total visitors came to the stores in six months, and they completed 16,000 training programs, according to a spokesperson for the Solana Foundation, which gave Norby a grant to help Solana Spaces launch. The spokesman said the foundation had no financial stake in the company.

Instead of selling a product, Solana Spaces presented its storefront as an interactive billboard for crypto brands like FTX, Phantom and Orca that paid for exposure to mainstream audiences. Their advertising dollars paid for Solana Space’s operations; when FTX imploded, it rocked the company, but Norby insisted that Solana Spaces could still sustain itself using its so-called “retail-as-a-service” (RaaS) model.

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Just over a year ago, Norby’s first attempt at RaaS, the technological gadget-focused store b8ta, closed its doors after they were unable to reach an agreement with the landlords. Solana Spaces’ New York location housed a former b8ta store.

Norby said he closed Solana Spaces’ brick-and-mortar operation because the behind-the-scenes administrative operations proved too burdensome and the potential for growth too small.

“It’s a little less about economics and more about where I thought this was going in the future,” Norby said.

The company will continue to build DriP, the NFT distribution platform that Norby said attracted tens of thousands of signups during Solana Spaces’ personal run.

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