High with HAY fever in Copenhagen


Pinkberry – The lean, team, FroYoMachine…

Korean Americans Shelly Whang and Young Lee launched Pinkberry in 2005, and along with it a cult. The idea behind the concept was to revive the 1980´s frozen yoghurt craze. The first Pinkberry was set up on Huntley Drive of West Hollywood and quickly gathered a large fan base, eagerly lining up outside. The line became a social event and a place to see and be seen. This trait has made Pinkberry a frequently featured brand in the paparazzi-realm, creating a great, powerful marketing tool, for the brand and endorsing celebs alike.

The real take-off for Pinkberry started in 2007, with $27.5M venture cap from Maveron, the venture fund founded by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, to expand the firm’s concept nationwide. Along with second round of funding in 2009 came plans for international launch.

Today, the Pinkberry franchise network boasts over 100 stores, mainly located on either the West or the East U.S coast. Recent developments include expansions to new markets in Southern U.S, to Mexico and South America, Middle East, Moscow and Vancouver.

The store decor is designer sleek yet inviting, with Philippe Starck furniture, Le Klint lighting and popping rich, high-gloss pastels.

The in-store supply chain is neat and has the following steps 1.) hanging out in the crammed waiting line

2.) ordering, paying, telling your name. The order and name is printed as a sticky ticket and stuck onto a cup….

3.) a new member of staff continues to help you with the personal customization – you choose your own mix of froyo flavor and toppings…This element of the process is the considered the height of the experience, and is often documented as a testimonial/proof of lost Pinkberry-virginity, such as below:

4.) If order input is great, there might be a slight delivery lag. To avoid wait at the counter, you will be alerted when its ready by yet another member of staff calling your name (by simply checking the name at the cup).

The lean, team, froyo-machine Pinkberry is great proof of how needs not only need to be met – but also need to be redefined/invented. The rise of Pinkberry stems from so much more than a crave for frozen yoghurt. USP´s are summarized in the lyrics of the official Pinkberry tune starting with “Sorry Ice Cream, I´m dreaming of a different dessert” and continues with statements like “Cuz it´s healthy”/ “Guilt Free” / “I like it in the rain – or in the wintertime” / “Good with a friend, with a lover or alone” Listen to the clip here:

The Hollywood connection creates not only a beneficial transfer of some glitz and glam, but a constant buzz of Pinkberry tweets and check-ins. Consequently, Pinkberry has been listed among the best “Social Media Restaurant Brands” of the U.S. The Pinkberry entourage is of all ages and passionate about the product, knowing the popularity of the brand, celebs aren´t shy of posing with the brand either.

A tongue-in-cheek sense of humor has developed to describe the craze. The nickname CrackBerry circulates the Web and entertaining user-created clips addressing the PinkBerry phenomenon are out on YouTube.

Cheap Monday @ Kronprinsensgade 7, Copenhagen

The Cheap Monday store in Copenhagen mimics the rugged decay of an apocalyptic cityscape – often featured in  Zombie flicks. However, the gloom and doom is balanced by a Sci-Fi/futuristic space note, with pyramidal shapes in semi-shiny metal throughout the layout. The combo is very BladeRunneresque – or is it best described by the hypothetical concept of an abandoned nuclear plant squeezed into a grannys apartment? The brand clearly does understand the ambient dimension of retail and dares challenge the general upbeat store design logic.

In tune with the times and its customers, the store embodies emotional complexity with a nod to melancholy, a melody so commonly flooding the ears and minds of urbanites, yet so rarely gets to scratch the glossy retail reality. Cheap Monday are rewriting some retail rules here.

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Make no misstake however, the conventional wrong may just be the contemporary right. The concept is designed by Swedish design firm Uglycute who have also recently designed the latest Cheap Monday Menswear store @ Selfridges in London.

Thankyou for the Tacos @ Tacombi

Opened in September of 2010, taco haunt Tacombi Fonda Nolita is soon about to celebrate its 1st birthday. I say congrats! The Mexican beach theme is perfected to Disneyesque standards. Yet, a kind of inherent grittyness, touching upon a rough streak in the Mexican heritage, evens out the balance.

A sleek taco hang during the day, Tacombi morphs into fiesta mode in the evening, chanelling a beach party wibe. The restaurant stems from what was initially Mexican taco-bus concept christened a Tacombi (derived from from Taco and the VolksWagen bus model Combi).

Started by entrepreneur Dario Wolos and with chef Aarón Sanchez as culinary wing man, the Fonda Nolita serves great tacos and a great experience. Seems reasonable to believe that the opening of the Elisabeth Street venue will be the beginning of a successful the Tacombi bus tour…The mantra of Peace, love and Tacos seems a great recipe for retail success.

Read a review in New York Magazine

See it for yourself:

267, Elisabeth Street, NYC

The Charming Chess Shop (and what it can teach us…)

Chess lovers´ haven The Chess Shop in Greenwich Village has been around since 1972. The dedicated shop, situated a block from Washington Square Park, hosts games 24 hours a day – 365 days a year. Over the years, hoards of chess lovers have passed through its doors and framed (and non-framed) photos whisper of legendary visits of super heroes from the international chess community.

The shop clearly plays a role in gathering the chess troops, and in spreading  the chess gospel. It hosts a lot of courses for all ages in how to master the art of chess. Besides the social (gaming) business model, the shop offers the widest range of chess sets you can imagine. This makes The Chess Shop a great place to pick up a gifts for chess loving friends. The chess shop is longtail retail at its best. Other retailers take note from The Chess shop on a couple of things:

1. Generous opening hours have a lot of beneficial psychological spin-off effects. Socializing with and in the store “after hours” increases the the degree of perceived intimacy between the customers and the products of your brand. Being in a store after hours automatically transitions your store to a living room, hence, making it living store! Of course this holds true for first movers, and not for the you guys at the bandwagon…

2. Your shop/shops can be a social hub and still sell stuff – In the long run its the ability of mastering the social hub element that will determine sales performance. The character of the retail offering is changing and the retail business models along with it. Stuff no longer necessarily hold dominion over Social. Not getting it? Try to come up with some alternative models of interaction between the store and the customers rather than the predictable look&choose&pay&gohome. Throw the elements around a bit and think about a alternative models (the old one is becoming a tad boring…). Although the assortment can be constantly renewed and hence restart the look&choose&pay it seems evident that that somewhat hysterical loop can not spin much faster than it is already. Hence, something else need to shift in the retail formula, and i´m not talking about simply transferring of the old model to the digital sphere – that aint new or very interesting in the long run.

3. A new set of new customer-centric social performance ratios need to be developed, implemented and measured. How to define these? Focus on trying to capture the emotional pay-off of a store visit, rather than the financial one. As online purchases and potential increases, the successful brand needs to focus on the  inspirational and truly soulful dimensions of the physical store. Give your customers that – and they will engage and commit to your brand in the digital sphere. If a brand succeeds in intensifying the physical store experience, and leverage from that via sales on online platforms, then the need for wast retail spaces could be reduced (and rent costs along with it). Physical store efficiency ratios need revision and retailers need a holistic perspective on physical and digital. Why not simply consider the physical store as one big fitting room and the web as the check-out?

Witty Windows @ Nordiska Kompaniet (Stockholm)

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The Stockholm department store Nordiska Kompaniet, or “NK” has had design team at Stockholm based design firm of Frankenstein and subsubsidary studio Look have a go at the window displays. The result? An impressive line-up of smart ideas and breathtakingly crisp execution. Attention to detail is stunning, as is the tender loving craftsmanship of the designs. Can´t make up my mind about which window I prefer – can you?

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The Magic of Muji Minimalism

Muji is the short version of what was initially a longer brand name, Mujirushi Ryōhin, Japanese for “no-brand quality goods”. The Muji story begun nearly 3 decades ago with the launch of a product brand of supermarket chain the Seiyu. Eventually Mujirushi Ryōhin opened its own shop (in 1983)…fast track 29 years… and enter the Muji flagship on 8th Avenue as featured in this post.

The expansion of Muji out of its native Japan begun with a U.K shop in 1991, and has since continued. Today, Muji has a staggering 300 points of sale in Japan (of which over 200 are stores). The western Muji point of sale count is up to well over 150 (the biggest individual markets in terms of store count are the U.K, Taiwan, Singapore and China).

What Muji does well are the varied store formats – the strong graphic profile and distinctive design seem to be attractive no matter the size and shape it comes in. The fact that Muji has a big range of products creates room for certain customization to suit the specific conditions of the individual store.

The Muji product range in new markets (clothing, home consumer goods, stationary etc) is considerably slimmer than in the Japanese domestic range which boasts over 5000 articles.

The brand philosophy was early set by a distinct minimalist aesthetic with a strong environmental conscience. Over the years, innovation, clever design and always über slick packaging looking sets Muji apart from the retail crowd. I find myself not being able to identify another retailer offering the same kind of product mix – can you? Muji does have a Magic Mojo. Committed fans insist that a Muji is a lifestyle rather than a brand. Clearly the appeal of the anti-logo is timeless, and stark minimalism seems to grab a new stronghold in these volatile times.

What is so nice about Muji is that it´s minimalism never becomes pretentious. Playfulness and creativity always lurk in the corners of the Muji experience, collaborations with Lego and pursuits of increasing parent-child collaborations through DIY-projects is retail magic at its best – namely, when the retail truly inspires well beyond the visit to the store.

The Muji brand opened the NYC 8th Avenue flagship in 2008.

Alternative Retail @ Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg

Alt´ Retail (alt as in alternative) mecca Artists & Fleas was opened by entrepreneurs Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer in 2003. Set up in old warehouse in Brooklyns Williamsburg, the concept provides a weekly marketplace for aspiring artists and designers.

A stroll round the shop lets you come close to the makers, as they present themselves along with their creations. The passion and philosophy fuelling the project is stated as follows on the website:

We love cool stuff. We love to shop. We love the thrill of discovery. And we especially love discovering new things in out-of-the-way places where we can meet the people behind the creations. Artists & Fleas was a way to bring all the things we loved together to a community that was creative and dynamic but lacked a place to come together.

Besides providing lots of inspiration to its weekend visitors, Artists & Fleas also provides great inspiration for creative makers, by addressing indie vendors with business savvy tips on merchandising and more. Abrams and Glimer are modern patrons of the crafted arts and small biz creative commerce (Abrams also having setting up network InGoodCompany). The Artists & Fleas website features a blog with great analysis of trends and the alt retail market,

While the future of markets and pop-up shops is still unwritten, one thing seems to be clear: there is a new phase of indie entrepreneur that is more buttoned up, super street smart and savvy in the art of storytelling their business as they work the food and flea and artisan scene across the City. Has the creative class become the new creative commerce class?

Clearly, the dream of making stuff and making it are increasingly interwoven. In these socialized times, putting a face to a product is so potent. Adding a personal story to the mix further spices things up. Meeting the maker live is evidently a big bonus so gathering a bunch of makers in one spot equals jackpot.

These above mentioned elements combined are the driving force behind the success of a platform like Artists & Fleas, and of online indie shop platforms like Etsy.com. The HBO hit How to Make it in America taps into a corner of this make-stuff-make-it realm. Its a wonderful thing – this new take on the American Dream. Call the movement what you wish: Alt retail, People-2-People, Peer-2-Peer Retail, Consumer-2-Consumer. My bet is that the small-scale maker retail rally is only beginning, both in the physical and the digital retail sphere… Makers of the world… Unite!

See it for yourself:

Where: 70, N 7th Street (Between Wythe and Kent)

When: Between 10am and 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Orange meets Beehive @ Moderna Museet Malmö

Walking into Moderna Museet Malmö you kind of get the feeling you´re walking straight into the fleshy pulp of an orange. The museum, a branch of the Stockholm mothership, resides in a century old brick-walled electrical station with a contemporary, cubical, bright orange extension. The museum opened in 2009 (the baby of architect team at Tham & Videgård).

Well inside, you will find shapes that mimic that of the beehive, with the recurrance of the hexagonal shape in the smart shop storage/display units as well as in the perforated metal walls. The intimate, cocoonlike ambiance in the gift shop/coffee shop stems from the low ceilings but is further accentuated by walls, floors, ceiling and all furniture being painted in the same glossy rich orange tone. The monochrome effect is great, the orange dominates in a way that makes the room feel ordered and tidy, despite the many functions (entrance, shop, café) co-existing in the relatively small space.

The wardrobe and toilet facilities are also drained in high octane glossy paint, this time: Canary Yellow. Once more, floors, walls, ceiling in zesty glossy monochrome. The cubical storage lockers – also yellow of course – are all marked with names of the superheroes of modern art. This evokes thought and curioisity, hence adds a certain conceptual depth to this small corner of the museum.

The exhibition spaces are more restricted to white-cube logic, hence does not pop like the reception space. I leave the orange beehive with an inspired, slight buzzy, head and an urge for orange juice… If that´s not influencial design I don´t know what is…

See it for yourself:

Moderna Museet Malmö
Gasverksgatan 22, Malmö

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