What is a concept store? It’s a retail outlet that sells a unique collection of products based on a theme designed by the brand. They’re mostly done to showcase curated stuff that appeals to a niche audience who is seeking a particular lifestyle. They focus on the experience rather than pure sales. Successful concept stores often combine several categories of products like books, clothes, footwear, food, etc. Let’s check out some of them.
Barber & Parlour (London)
This is a large concept store. There are hairdressers, barbers, and beauty parlors on one level, while on another, the customers can grab a cuppa at the in-house café. Part of the Soho House company, Barber & Parlour sells their own cold-pressed juices. You can also purchase books, stationery, accessories, and even watch the latest flicks in their basement Electric Cinema. Now, that’s one awesome experience for someone just heading out to get their hair cut.
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Story (New York)
The exciting New York-based “Story” retells a different narrative each time you visit the store. It creates new themes every two months or so based on real life incidents and current events. Partnering with different retailers, it showcases specific theme-based products and accessories, such as housewares, artisan offerings, food, and books, along with hosting guest speakers. While “normie” stores encourage walk-in customers to keep on buying, Story wants them to be excited and pleasantly surprised each time they wander inside. Also on display are the latest technologies and brands. Story, located inside Macy’s in New York, is often called a “living magazine.”
That’s Haarlem in the Netherlands. “Beans, cotton, and… things,” is what they offer over at Portrait. Coffee beans from Guatemala, clothes from Scandinavia, and various other “things” – you like what you see, you can buy it. All encased in a white-washed rugged environment, Portrait features minimalist display units with Scandinavian-styled furniture. The founders say that it’s just like visiting your own home. Whether you’re going to hang out, network, buy, read, or drink, Portrait has you covered.
Located in Barcelona, Hivernacle botanical nursery is somewhat of a difficult find. Designed by Joseph Amargos, an industrial architect for the 1888 World’s Fair, the Hivernacle is located in a Victorian factory. Filled with plants and huge skylights, you can find your pick of tropical plants, cacti, or even fruit trees inside the industrial structure. Besides selling plants, the space is used by musicians and exhibitors and also features a cafe.
Tianti (New York)
Based out of New York, Tianti started as an online bookstore back in 2007. Today, the retail outlet features books on the Buddhist qigong practice, Falun Dafa, along with free consultations regarding the practice. They also carry exercise instruction videos in more than 20 languages. And then there is the café, which serves high quality tea and coffee along with delicious in-house sandwiches, pastries, and French cookies. Tianti offers a serene ambiance inside the chaotic city. Tianti holds Falun Dafa meditation classes daily. They also have a branch in Seoul, Korea. A perfect combination of physical and mental health. The store’s best-selling book is the most-translated Chinese book in the 5,000 year history of China called Zhuan Falun. Grab a copy while you’re in New York.
So, what’s your pick? Concept stores are all about character, exuding the founder’s imagination and values. How would you design a concept store, if given a chance?