While the perks of alternative marketplaces are admittedly irresistible, the dissolution of traditional retail is worthy of mourning. Physical boutiques have long acted as the original bastion and gathering points for local enthusiasts. As Edwin Negado, the founder of San Diego boutique Gym Standard, put it, “Without your community you don’t have a store, and without community you don’t have an identity…I want to be a key person, especially in my hometown, to kind of activate some of these young and up-and-coming talents, these makers of San Diego.” When I moved to Chicago alone two years ago, I found truth in Negado’s words and immediate refuge and camaraderie in the city’s sneaker shops. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, stores cannot be merely stores. They must find a way – be it through conceptual buildouts or coffee – to excite, stoke passion, instill wonder, and ultimately convince an audience that the tangible is still worth slowing down for.