In the expansive world of Web3, there isn’t much use for anything IRL, right? Wrong. Just ask the team behind Solana, which is opening a permanent physical retail space dedicated to all things tied to its cryptocurrency.
Located at The Shops, a fancier-than-average mall at Hudson Yards in Manhattan, the store opens to the public on Thursday, but I was able to get a tour a day early.
If you’re not familiar, Solana touts itself as a faster alternative to the Ethereum blockchain, while likewise offering smart contracts that power NFTs and various decentralized applications. In the last year, Solana’s currency SOL rose to be among the top 10 by market value.
As for the store—which might seem like a far-fetched idea—I honestly found it to be a pretty cool spot (and let me be clear upfront, I don’t own any SOL!)
It feels like any other upscale retail store, but it accepts cryptocurrency—with “Solana Pay Accepted Here” casually posted on the storefront glass—and has an NFT gallery highlighting the Degenerate Ape Academy collection across its walls.
Upon entering, I immediately noticed an interactive installation visualizing what’s happening on the Solana blockchain in real time, including transactions done and NFTs minted.
Across the store, there are various stations aimed at onboarding people to the crypto space, including a private booth for people to set up a Phantom wallet (the most popular Solana wallet) and write down their seed phrase (a secret chain of words that acts as a pin) on a tiny card for safe keeping.
Other stations gave tutorials on platforms like STEPN, a play-to-earn app, and Magic Eden, an NFT marketplace. There, people can also check out Solana Saga, Solana’s Web3 mobile phone (yes, you read that correctly).
Of course, there was branded merch everywhere in the store, with shirts, sweats and hats galore, labeled with phrases commonly used in the crypto community like the rallying cry “WAGMI,” as well as “degen,” “not financial advice,” and “probably nothing.” It’s every crypto bro’s dream.