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Physical store operator Leap jumps into new markets

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Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Leap, a startup that locates and operates physical stores for consumer brands, is adding five new markets, the company said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Leap's expansion comes as the retail industry continues to open brick and mortar stores even amid an e-commerce boom. Case in point: Store openings outpaced store closings by more than two to one as of January.

Details: The expansion is being funded from the $50 million Series B it raised in January, its co-CEO and co-founder Amish Tolia tells Axios.

  • The expansion markets are Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Greenwich, Conn., and Columbus, Ohio.

Of note: Leap's expansion follows the move by a number of digitally native startups seeking physical locations. These include home furnishings brand Parachute, apparel brand Vuori and hair care brand Madison Reed.

Between the lines: E-commerce dominated during the pandemic.

  • But as customers become more expensive to acquire online, brands are looking to physical stores and wholesale as more cost-effective ways to attract shoppers.

How it works: Leap is described by its CEO as an operating system that helps build and scale brands' store strategies.

  • The company handles everything from signing the lease agreement to hiring and managing the store employees. The only thing the brand needs to supply is the merchandise and online capabilities, Tolia said.
  • While a store will look and feel like the brand, everything underneath is powered by Leap, he added.

State of play: Leap currently operates stores for brands such as Mack Weldon, ThirdLove, Something Navy, A Pea in the Pod and Naadam.

What's next: The money Leap raised and the new markets it is now entering will help achieve its goal of quadrupling the number of stores it operates over the next two years, Tolia said.

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