Not a bazaar, a flea market nor a mall or a department store, the best description might be ''collection of mini-boutiques.''
The creator of the retailing concept behind Edge NYC, a newly opened shopping space on Bleecker Street in Manhattan, calls it ''the future of retail.'' Whether that turns out to be true -- it has been open only since the beginning of August -- remains to be seen. But it is clear that Nicholas Petrou, who came up with the idea for Edge NYC, has created a distinctive approach to retailing.
Displayed in 3,500 square feet are 26 tiny open-fronted boutiques lining the walls and another 26 glass counter spaces that form a center island. Emerging designers -- who run the shops themselves -- sell upscale handmade clothes, bags, jewelry, accessories and even some fine art directly to customers.
Like curators at a gallery, Mr. Petrou and his manager, Alex Pabon, selected the designers to maintain a balance of products and an interesting aesthetic mix aimed at appealing to shoppers who want to buy unique pieces.
''It's a department store for young designers,'' Mr. Petrou said, when asked to describe his creation. ''Customers get to meet the designers, find out about their inspiration, and the designers get feedback from customers on prices and craftsmanship. Sometimes, you can even see the designers working.''A group of entrepreneurs could come together and split rent on a commercial space 20 ways to create the "new take on the flea market".