Yet in a world dominated by international brands, merchandising is simply the most effective way to connect with an audience. The impetus to possess and collect is, for better or worse, the primary way in which we define ourselves in the world. Perhaps "alternative" retail is a way of channeling art's anticommercial impulse into a more pragmatic form. Instead of hypocritically denigrating commerce by pretending to rise above it, these businesses use it to foster new forms of creativity, community, and yes, consumption. Hey, if a designer coffee table gives you insight into an abstract painting, I won't call you a sellout.