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

Solana Spaces, which used stores in New York City and Miami to promote its blockchain, tweeted Tuesday that it will close its sites by the end of the month.

CEO Vibhu Norby tweeted that the firm hit “an inflection point” in the past two months and will switch from brick-and-mortar experiences to NFTs. Solana Spaces will become DRiP, Norby’s boutique NFT distribution platform, which he championed in his stores.

Seven months after Norby opened Solana Spaces’ first store in Hudson Yards’ dazzling mall, it closed. Visitors were escorted through interactive stations that showed them how to use Solana, from creating a crypto wallet to trading tokens on a decentralized exchange. Norby opened a Miami business afterward.

A representative for the Solana Foundation, which awarded Norby a grant to develop Solana Spaces, said 60,000 people visited the stores in six months and completed 16,000 onboarding courses. The representative indicated the Foundation does not own the company.

Solana Spaces advertised their storefront as an interactive billboard for crypto businesses like FTX, Phantom, and Orca that paid for mainstream visibility. Norby’s “retail-as-a-service” (RaaS) strategy allowed Solana Spaces to survive when FTX collapsed.

The tech gadget store b8ta, Norby’s first RaaS venture, shuttered a year ago after failing to negotiate with its landlords. Solana Spaces New York occupied a former b8ta storefront.

Norby discontinued Solana Spaces’ brick-and-mortar activities due to administrative costs and low expansion potential.

“It’s a little less about economics and more about where I believed this was heading in the future,” Norby added.

The startup will construct DRiP, the NFT distribution platform that Norby says garnered tens of thousands of sign-ups during Solana Spaces’ in-person run.

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