Close
 

Shops I'm absolutely, positively, unmistakeably smitten with

  • Opinion
  • April 15, 2016
  • Juanita Neville-Te Rito
Shops I'm absolutely, positively, unmistakeably smitten with

One of my favourite retail futurists, Howard Saunders, recently posted an opinion piece on the rise of Microtowns. This is an entirely new retail concept to me; Howard is famous for making new stuff up, and Howard believes that Microtowns are providing an alternative to the homogenised high streets. Essentially hipster green shoots popping up everywhere.

And whilst I agree with his thoughts on why these Microtowns are becoming an increasing part of our retail landscape, I also think they have been borne from other emerging retail trends including hyper-personalisation, hyper-localisation and social community consciousness.

So what is a Microtown exactly? Well Howard tells us……

The term Microtown was originally coined to describe a place that had near bled to death because its citizens abandoned it to work elsewhere, so that it became a tiny, broken version of its former self; a kind of pre-ghost town.

Howard’s now hijacked the term to describe something far more significant: the nuclei that is the genesis of new communities. Those edge-of-town micro-brewers and food artisans; pioneers building our future, have re-awakened our shopping streets, and in the process, redefined retail itself. They have already shifted the centre of gravity away from the mediocrity at the heart of so many towns.

It is very exciting that in Howard’s top picks of his favourite Microtowns, Auckland’s City Works Depot is the first mentioned; and this guy travels the world! He was quite smitten with it (and apparently not impressed with much else on offer in town).

I, however, was smitten with the Proxy

On a recent trip to San Francisco, we fell upon a precinct that is a portable microtown in Hayes Valley. This little container village was a pop of excitement on a dull, wet day; essentially a cohort of experiences “which seeks to mobilize a flexible environment of food, art, culture, and retail” according to the website.

Proxy was born as a response and a solution to the ever-changing urban lifecycle, “existing as a temporary placeholder and an instigator of evolving cultural curiosities in art, food, retail and events.” The design embraces the diversity of a city and encourages the rotation of new ideas and businesses as well as innovative public art installations which come and go like new visitors at the site.

Proxy is home to ultra cool retailer, Aether Apparel which is a technical clothing for men and woman with a clean modern aethsetic. They built a concept space constructed from 3 shipping containers with a custom glass-encased cantilevered lounge and the ultra-cool feature of a belt-driven dry-cleaner style conveyor system for stock (yes I get excited about the strangest things). But the design and experience makes for a truly unique, local store.

Super cool dry-cleaner style conveyor system for stock

True&Co

On the day we were visiting, we got to experience the launch of the True&Co Try-On Truck. True&Co started as a lingerie etailer who wanted to create "a live version of our personal fitting experience, inspired by the ‘tiny homes’ movement. We wanted women to feel at home in our mobile shop" according to Michelle Lam, True&Co.’s CEO and founder.

The customised space is meant to evoke a boutique filled with "the breezy warm feel of California sun on weathered wood,” according to a press release, featuring four fitting rooms for sampling a selection of True&Co.’s well-curated bras. These bras are selected based on the fitting as well as a five-minute Fit Quiz that you take at the start of your process. You can book a free appointment here; any bras you buy will be shipped to your home.

After the launch in San Francisco, the Try-On Truck was off through Northern California and then heading on to Los Angeles. After that, anywhere……

Smitten

Smitten originally started as a truly mobile experience before setting up sticks in the PROXY

What got me super-excited; Smitten, on this day, was a cute little dessert shop, like no other dessert shop you have ever seen. With swirls of fog billowing out of mixers, a Hogart’s style concoction of sheer delight was being crafted inside.

Smitten was the brainchild of founder Robyn Sue Fisher, who really didn’t like how ice cream was made today. The baffling ingredient listings of unpronounceable names compelled her to make an ice cream “closer to the cow” or “new, old-fashioned ice-cream.”

The centre of this experience is the Brr, a proprietary ice cream maker that churns out the good stuff. Made to order, using liquid nitrogen at a super-cold temperature, means the ice cream is far smoother than regular ice cream (a whole science behind it).

The Brrr ice cream machine

This is a wonderful experience as a shopper. From entering the inviting store, to your “Brrister” explaining the process, then handcrafting your ice cream to order, this is the ultimate in perfection.

 What makes this “from scratch” ice cream so delicious is the love and care given to the highest quality ingredients. Partnering with the best-of-the-best local farms and purveyors, they seem to find the freshest and most flavourful ingredients.

Seasonal flavours


Microtowns are an evolution from the tired, dreary and pitiful state of the worst the retail sector has to offer. They are providing a renaissance of sorts; the craftsmanship, passion and mastery of retail that has been lost with the “stack it high, watch it fly” mass market approach. These communities are rewarding us with a wonderful array of hyper-personalised, hyper-local and hyper-cool products to buy and experience, bringing passion back into the art of retailing - doing it their way.

This post was originally published on Juanita's blog, Retail Geek.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Restaurant Brands turns 22

  • News
  • March 26, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Restaurant Brands turns 22

As it prepares to celebrate its 22nd birthday, the listed corporate franchisor foresees a sunny future for the three – soon to be four - multi-site branded food retail chains it manages in New Zealand.

Read more
 
 

Linwood businesses struggle in mosque attack aftermath

  • News
  • March 26, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Linwood businesses struggle in mosque attack aftermath

A group of Christchurch businesses are struggling to get back on their feet after the attack on their neighbouring Linwood Mosque. Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

Read more
 
 

Farmers account awarded to Clemenger Group

  • News
  • March 26, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Farmers account awarded to Clemenger Group

99 and Colenso BBDO have won the creative and customer experience business for Farmers. The win, after a competitive pitch, sees the advertising account return to 99 after a six-year hiatus.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 

Hemp products go beyond the specialty shelves

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hemp products go beyond the specialty shelves

Since hemp seeds’ legalisation for growing, manufacture and sale in November 2018, supermarkets have quickly pivoted to include hemp products such as protein powder in their health food and specialty sections, but the trendy ingredient has already found its way into mainstream product categories.

Read more
 
 

No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

The Naturally Good Expo, held over June 2 – 3 in Sydney, will bring retailers, brands and practitioners together to learn about all things healthy, organic and natural. Among the topics discussed by industry leaders at the expo is the recent legalisation of hemp – it’s popping up everywhere. We asked John Leith of supplier Hemp Oz and speaker Susan Tapper of Holistic Marketing Healthy Sales for more information about this exciting new product category.

Read more
 

Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}