With 18 halls to get round Euroshop can often be a time trial on a short visit, but it’s really worth trying to take in a few local stores – the exhibition messe doesn’t open until 10am so unless you’ve taken too much “refreshment” in the Altstadt the night before it’s easy to fit in.
The most obvious place is the Königsallee, a broad boulevard of mainly luxury retailers that’s a welcome change of pace from the exhibition scrum. The likes of Gucci and Dior are masters of a consistent global format so maybe you won’t see much of the unexpected there. It’s more interesting down at the “lower end” where retailers like Zara start to encroach. In their case it looks like the same fit-out as the UK but somehow the store seems sharper and more defined. I think it’s really about the way the product merchandising is better managed and subtle changes to the layout and segmentation, but it’s way slicker than its UK counterparts.
Another store worth a visit is Douglas (possibly the most unlikely name for a high-end cosmetics retailer). One of the consultants told me their other town centre stores are more basic and this one was more of a flagship. It’s almost like a condensed department store beauty hall that still manages to retain an identity of its own with a cleverly connected set of rooms with their own distinct feel.
But there are some real finds away from the Königsallee. In one of the arcades you’ll come across Violas, a spice and delicatessen store that elevates it’s goods to something more akin to cosmetic and beauty products.
And if you want to see how beautifully brass hose fittings can be displayed then you should head down Steintsrasse to Manufactum. They have just nine stores in Germany selling, amongst other things household goods, garden tools, apparel, camping, cosmetics and food. So it’s a mixed bag but it’s all held together by a philosophy of making things by traditional manufacturing methods and creating beautiful objects that last.
That same care and attention has gone into the store design too with a real flair for display and encouraging browsing, exploration and discovery.
Finally, a serendipitous discovery somewhere between our hotel and the Königsallee: Jens Zapke, a traditional shoemakers and menders. Clearly a one-off and there’s no real cutting-edge design to see, but the way it tells a story of traditional quality and craftsmanship is a real joy.
PS. You can read about some of the Euroshop forum highlights in this article.