Way to go, Threadless

threadless.jpgEveryone’s favourite T-Shirt store, Threadless, have announced that they’ll be opening an offline store in Chicago in September.

They will be hosting a free concert/party at Metro in Chicago on September 14th to mark the event. And, according to psfk:

The store will cover two floors; the lower level offering Threadless retail and the upstairs serving as a mixed-use gallery space for showcasing works by winning Threadless designers, as well as occassional group critiques and design lectures. Digital Bootcamp will also be offering courses on design, art and programs in-store.

This is a great move for Threadless. I was yabbering recently about Etsy, who have done a top job in building a strong community online. But by adding an offline element, they’ve further strengthened the community that they’ve built.

Online communities should also be offline

A good quote I stumbled across this morning:

“An online community is no substitute for real-world interactions. In fact, the most successful online communities are the ones that throw parties, sponsor events, host get-togethers — help members meet one another face-to-face in the real world.”

Craig Newmark, founder, Craigslist interviewed by Fast Company, November 2000. (Via Make Marketing History)cupcakesetsy.gif

I think this is spot on.

Etsy.com are a terrific case of this. Etsy.com is a terrific online art and craft community. But offline, they host events, parties and workshops, attend craft fairs and even give out free cupcakes. Etsy spend a lot of time giving back to their community in the offline world, as well as online.

Does anyone else have any good examples?

UPDATED: Etsy’s own words on community (great post)

Communities – Good or Evil?

Over at Vitamin, Jeffrey Kalmikoff has written a superb article about building communities. They key points that he raises are:

  • If you don’t trust your customers then you won’t be able to build a community
  • Communities aren’t an ‘add-on’
  • If you’re doing nothing wrong, people won’t have anything to complain about

Marketing these days is about building a communtiy, not just a customer base. You need to read this article to appreciate how traditional marketing has been turned on its head.