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Economy

The Retail Winners of 2020 Didn’t Need Stores

A pandemic-fueled boom in e-commerce startups and online-only “micro-sellers” is reshaping the retail geography of U.S. cities.

Retailers with physical stores faced a hard year in 2020, but sellers who didn’t need brick and mortar outlets found more success online. 

Retailers with physical stores faced a hard year in 2020, but sellers who didn’t need brick and mortar outlets found more success online. 

Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Brea Fullerton came up with the idea for her own business in 2019, at her wedding: When her photographer shot a close-up of her engagement ring, she noticed that it was dirty. Months later, she launched Shinery, an online store that sells non-toxic jewelry care. 

Fullerton joined a large cohort of U.S. “solopreneurs” who started online retail businesses in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. “We tried to focus on the feel-good side of the pandemic with our messaging,” Fullerton said. “We wanted to speak to self-care and spending more time at home. My biggest consumer is recently engaged women, so we spoke to the fact that ‘love wasn’t canceled either.’”