Retail on Opposite Sides of the Spectrum
April 10, 2011 1 Comment
Recently on a local exploring mission I encountered two radically different approaches to the retail medium. One, a treasure trove of found objects where the most rewarding discoveries come from not knowing what you’re looking for. The other, a meticulously organized creative playground for the minds of children and their parents. While both were certainly memorable they illustrated the drastically different mentality of two distinct groups of shoppers, people that believe great retail experiences come with hard work and dedication, and people that, well, want shopping to be easy.
For the first group, places like Turn Of The Century Shop in northern Cincinnati would make their mouth water. From the storefront what appears to be a harmless antique shop quickly turns to an overwhelming hoarder’s fantasy as you enter to see wall to wall piles too tall to see over and a trail barely wide enough for your foot that winds through three rooms of antiquing mayhem. But for the shopper up for the challenge there is an excitement in the unknown, that’s what keeps people digging deeper towards the bottom of the piles, there’s that chance that you may uncover something unique that has been buried for years that you can’t live without. There’s a sense that you must be getting a deal because you’ve earned it, you’ve put in the work and realized the beauty in something that has been ignored for generations. That’s the real appeal to me, the dank space, the sweat and tears shed are all an endearing obstructions between the shopper and finding incredible vintage relics.
For our second group of shoppers the Lego Store in Kenwood Mall is a wonderfully considered and holistic branded experience. They have created a life-size Lego environment that you might imagine all of your little yellow bulbous-headed Lego people enjoy. Everything is done with a kid’s perspective in mind, from the rainbow display of parts and pieces where kids can gleefully create their own Lego mix, to portals that showcase whimsical little Lego scenes hung at a perfect 2nd grader’s viewing level. The merchandise is intensely organized and edited with feature items co-branded with the latest video game and movie franchises. And if box lined walls seem a little overwhelming there are plenty of yellow apron adorned employees to help you find what you need or reach boxes from the top shelves.
In the end, I was equally fascinated with both scenarios. Both inspired my imagination of what could be. Whether it was “What could be underneath this huge box of exercise VHS tapes?” or “How cool could it be to recreate the Paris street scene from Inception with Legos?!?”