Story, a Manhattan concept store that changes its focus every four to eight weeks and functions as a space for both selling and storytelling, has been transformed into a hacker's paradise and will remain so through July 24 to promote the USA Network series Mr. Robot, which begins season_2.0 on July 13.
One of the coolest features of the installation: Visitors can actually "hack" an Evil Corp ATM machine (powered by iStrategy Labs). There are clues all around the store that reveal codes that can be plugged into the ATM, rewarding observant shoppers with $10, $20, or $50 bills.
The overall theme of the latest incarnation of Story is "to disrupt," and the store has been temporarily branded Disrupt Story. "Both the challenge and the exciting opportunity for us was that it has to be an experience that resonates with and appeals to diehard Robot fans," says Story founder Rachel Shectman, who made Fast Company's Most Creative People list in 2012. "But if you've never seen the show, it has to make sense."
With that in mind, Story space has been divided into factions representing four rebellious groups that represent themes from the show: the Founders, the Innovators, the Expressionists, and the Union of 1s. "We extracted these broad-stroke editorial themes from the show and used them as a way to curate merchandise and content in the store and also as a navigation tool to introduce guests to the experience," Shectman explains.
The Founders faction focuses on new business models and American manufacturing. Items from that section include a limited-edition jacket created by JackThreads that was modeled on the one Christian Slater's character wears on the show and a limited-edition Mr. Robot-themed stainless-steel, laser-cut bottle opener produced by Zootility.
The Innovators faction, which was curated in collaboration with The Verge, is dedicated to products that use technology to advance progress. There you will find will.i.am’s i.am+ Bluetooth-enabled headphones and a limited-edition version of technologist Christina Mercado’s Bluetooth-enabled Ringly, a ring that enables the wearer to receive smartphone notifications.
The Expressionists faction is devoted to creativity and includes backpacks, T-shirts, and other items featuring the work of artists Shantell Martin and Carly Chaikin, who plays the hacker Darlene on Mr. Robot, and painted a version of the fsociety mask specifically for this project.
The Union of 1s section is all about Mr. Robot and hacker culture in general. There are Mr. Robot T-shirts and smartphone cases as well as more general items like 3V Gear's tactical nylon pack and—for big spenders who can shell out $2,500—Polycade, a modern, wall-mounted platform for retro gaming.
Aside from selling merchandise, the store is also displaying props from Mr. Robot's Coney Island fsociety lair, including the concessions sign, Thunder Ball Skee-Ball machine, and the Frogger arcade game, and visitors can view exclusive content from Mr. Robot via an interactive display table—a replica of hacker Elliot Alderson's desk—programmed by Perch Interactive. Every time you touch an item on the desk, a new clip from the show is projected onto its surface.
Alexandra Shapiro, executive vice president, marketing and digital, for USA Network and Syfy Channel, thinks Mr. Robot fans are going to enjoy not only shopping at the store but hanging out and soaking up the fsociety-inspired atmosphere. "I think you can create great intimacy through social and digital, but it can't be at the expense of being able to touch and feel an experience," says Shapiro, who is putting more "real, tangible activations" into her media mix these days.