by Stephen Garner
The Forum by b8ta shop in West Hollywood, CA

Retail tech company b8ta announced on Thursday that it has acquired Re:store, a one-year-old startup that helps online fashion brands gain a physical presence by providing space at its store on Maiden Lane in San Francisco. With this acquisition, b8ta marks an expansion in fashion and lifestyle as the industry looks for innovation.

Launched in August 2019, Re:store was founded by Selene Cruz after she bootstrapped her fashion brand out of her studio apartment. Seeing firsthand the need to get discovered and build community, she turned her studio into a shared showroom. Re:store went on to raise $1.7 million in pre-seed funding led by Sequoia and SPC, one of the few Latinas raising venture funding in the Valley.

The company has quickly become a go-to experiential retail partner for Instagram famous brands like Sezane, H&M’s & Other Stories, Nasty Gal, Storets, as well as direct-to-consumer startups experimenting with physical retail including Thinx, 11 Honore, MM La Fleur, and Sleepy Jones. Re:store innovated IRL distribution with its retail-as-a-service model that provided turnkey placement with a proprietary dashboard, giving real-time visibility to automate merchandising, buying, and logistics.

b8ta already operates the largest experiential retail footprint in the world with some two dozen outlets across the United States, Dubai, and Japan. To date, b8ta’s retail footprint has seen over 50 million product engagements and launched more than 1,000 brands. In addition, b8ta licenses its store operations technology and works with premier partners such as Made by Google and Market @ Macy’s. It also made headlines last year for bringing back Toys ‘R’ Us during the holiday season.

b8ta has raised over $88.5 million in funding and is part-owned by Macy’s, Inc. In fall 2019, b8ta launched its inaugural Forum by b8ta store in West Hollywood, CA with a keen eye toward entering the fashion and lifestyle market. By acquiring Re:store, Forum by b8ta will be offering “one cohesive solution” for the needs of fashion and lifestyle brands seeking retail distribution online and offline without the hassle.

“The future of retail is discovery,” said Vibhu Norby, co-founder and CEO of b8ta. “I am a huge fan of what Selene built at Re:store, and we’re incredibly excited to add their Maiden Lane location to our portfolio.” The acquisition was a mixed offering of cash, equity, and contingent consideration, with Re:store maintaining licensing rights while handing off the business dealings to b8ta. Existing brand partners will see Maiden Lane rebranded under Forum by b8ta, and now be able to expand into West Hollywood, NYC’s Hudson Yards, and future unannounced locations in b8ta’s lifestyle pipeline. They will also have immediate access to Forum by b8ta’s online marketplace. Selene Cruz will stay on in an advisory role with b8ta to support brand curation and community experience.

“The b8ta team has been an inspiration since the beginning,” added Cruz. “This acquisition is a big win in our mission to create a true fashion-meets-tech platform. We’re excited to finally be able to tap into our waitlist of brands and give them access to omni retail beyond Maiden Lane. Between b8ta’s massive network of stores and strong execution performance in such a short time, and our thoughtful approach to curation, storytelling and customer experience, we’re excited to work with their team to push for a new future of retail.”