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Shoppers Grab Now, Text-To-Pay Later At First Dirty Lemon Store

Dirty Lemon, a health-focused drink startup, has opened a retail storefront with a trust-based twist: there is no cashier or checkout counter. Shoppers can enter Drug Store in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, grab what they like and send a text message when they want to pay.

The retailer typically sells its products online, and its home delivery service uses the same text message-based payment system. After shoppers inform Dirty Lemon that they’ve made a purchase, an associate responds with a link to enter their credit card information and the message “Let us know if you need anything else.”

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“I do think a majority of people would feel very guilty for continuing to steal,” said Zak Normandin, CEO of Dirty Lemon in an interview with The New York Times. He declined to comment on how much money the business was willing to lose to theft, but noted that he would write down any losses as sampling costs.

The retailer was founded in 2015 and has since reached 100,000 customers. The company’s drinks are all lemon-flavored and come in varieties including a “sleep tonic” with magnesium, a “beauty elixir” featuring collagen and an “anti-aging drink” containing rose water.

Dirty Lemon is moving most of its $4 million annual digital advertising budget into its retail stores. Normandin said that his customers, who are mostly young women, are tired of digital marketing and more interested in in-person experiences.

The retailer already has plans for a second New York location and two more in two other cities. Each will feature a V.I.P. lounge with a bar and special events. The retailer’s original store includes an experiential touch in the form of a selfie-friendly mirror.

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