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New Mag Mile coworking space gives local retail startups a chance to test their products

The new tenant will take over the former Sports Authority space in Water Tower Place

David Ohmer / Flickr

A vacancy in Water Tower Place is about to get a coworking space designed for consumer-focused startups. The major perk here is that the company offers entrepreneurs the chance to rent retail space and gain valuable data on how the consumer might interact with a product.

The Washington D.C.-based business, plans to set up offices and an event space in the 12,000-square-foot location in early spring at the downtown shopping destination, according to the news first reported by the Chicago Tribune. The space has been unoccupied since Sports Authority closed in 2016.

Those who sign up for membership can find out what customers think of their creation and gather important market research. It’s easy to image how a space like this might benefit a business dreaming to carve out a spot for themselves in retail.

The idea is to provide a platform for early-stage companies that normally wouldn’t have the chance to test their product in a major store, said managing partner Mark Kennedy to the Chicago Tribune. It also has the added bonus of attracting shoppers who value local, homegrown products.

This isn’t the only innovation going on at the Mag Mile mall, back in August the IRL pop-up shop for online businesses opened. The collaboration between Water Tower Place owner GGP and consultant The Lion’esque Group filters different online-only collections and brands through the space.

Traditional malls are struggling and must find new ways to compete against the convenience of online shopping. From local fare food halls, eye-catching art installations and new futuristic designs—retailers are determined to create unique experiences.