• Partners Trust opened up the space below its Santa Monica office for retail. The store is called Openhouse.
  • The idea is to get people in the doors – whether they're interested in purchasing real estate or not – so they remember the experience.
  • The space currently has an installation by Hermosa Design, a design firm located in Hermosa Beach.

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What is a real estate office to those not necessarily considering a home purchase? How is the space utilized? What is a better use of the space? How can a real estate office engage the community?

Los Angeles-based real estate firm Partners Trust is trying out a new way to answer those questions. The space below the firm’s Santa Monica office has been transformed into Openhouse, a retail design space curated by Hermosa Design to feature local designers’ work.

“We have a fully established office there, but we wanted to change the context of reaching out to our community,” Partners Trust CEO Nick Segal said.

Buy off the walls

Openhouse isn’t a pop-up shop in the sense that it’s temporary — this is a commitment from Partners Trust. The idea isn’t so much to sell products to generate revenue, the firm says, but more to provide a space for people to interact with agents in a more comfortable setting.

For Partners Trust, selling local wares is just another way of reaching out.

Partners Trust

The Openhouse storefront below the Partners Trust office in Santa Monica.

“It’s really an opportunity to one: engage, and two: to create an environment where people want to come in and don’t feel like they’re being sold anything. As they’re viewing through the store, we also sell real estate!” Segal said.

“So if you’re thinking about buying or selling, maybe the relationship we created when we sold you a chair, or maybe a set of glassware, suddenly creates a deeper conversation.”

Since directly above the space is the office, Segal said it will also allow agents to interact with clients in a more casual environment.

Partners Trust

Inside Openhouse

The showroom, if you will, is designed like a living room with various shelves displaying items, all of which are for sale.

And unlike a typical gallery space, Partners Trust is not taking a commission from sales. Instead, the firm is asking designers that 10 percent of the sale be allotted for the Partners Trust charitable giving fund, which makes donations to six area charities.

Can it be more than just a retail space?

The original idea was conceived last year, when Segal was thinking of ways to host educational speaking sessions in the space.

“But where would they sit? It’s a conventional real estate office,” he said. “Hold it! Let’s make it a living room.”

Partners Trust

Inside Openhouse

The retail side offers more than just home decor, too. Yes, there are bookshelves, books on the shelves, and book ends. There are also chairs, side tables, coasters and stemware. You can even buy a bicycle if that’s what you’re in the market for.

The current installation by Hermosa Design will be in place until October 31. Two more designers are already on deck for coming installations.

Openhouse is located at 1728 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica. Its open hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday.

Email Britt Chester