They focus on their customers’ lifestyles. Many also sell children’s fashion, although there are very few children’s concept stores. But specialist retailers can learn a lot from them.

“Shopping is now a multi-channel experience – you have to constantly keep that in mind and always focus on adding value for the customer. Conservative specialist retailers offer hardly any added value or special shopping experiences. But when the experience is right, I feel like I’m in good hands.” This is how Julia von Loessl, owner of the children’s concept store “Little Foshi” in Hamburg, provocatively describes the difference between traditional specialist retailers and the concept stores that have been springing up in German cities and towns for several years now.

 In contrast to the department stores and specialist shops of the retail trade, concept stores and their high-quality brands are aligned to clearly defined target groups. With a typical mix of fashion, shoes, home accessories, books, cosmetics, toys, food, and everyday objects, concept stores are targeted at clients who love luxury, design, and sports, and who are nutrition-conscious. The size of the range is not so important here as the selection of the individual pieces, which are presented attractively. Here, the customers can find stylish items, with which they can surround themselves, presenting themselves as individualists.

Concept Stores help customers get an overview of a large product offering and make targeted purchasing decisions. A competent proprietor with good taste has preselected items for the customer in the form of well-known fashion labels and other products that represent a particular lifestyle.

Added value through style-training advice and events

It all started 25 years ago, with Carla Sozzani and her shop, Corso Como 10 in Milan, and has since become a successful model in many cities around the world. In the Dilly Dally Designmarkt in Regensburg, you can buy embroidered postcards and self-stitched handbags, and receive gift suggestions. You can also participate in blind-tasting. The customer sits at the table with a blindfold and receives three courses for tasting. “In the future, everything will be available in the Convenience segment. The customers want a real experience when shopping. This means that retail has to be less focused on the goods and instead offer added value,” says Ulrich Eggert, a well-known German retailer and trend researcher.

The added value can be, for example, the fact that designers present their products in the store themselves and share a little of their history. For example, “FreudenSchrei”, the first concept store in Saarbrücken, offers readings, presentations, and workshops for customers.

Eva Corsten, owner of the LUPACO Munich Concept Store, sees things similarly: “We offer private shopping events, host regular vernissages, and organise small sales events each season, to which we invite other labels, which then present their own brands. We also hire out the location for video productions, birthday parties and so on.” In addition to outdoor fashion for adults and children, LUPACO also offers suitable footwear and games. “We also always include highlights that we discover at trade fairs,” says Corsten.


Overall concept for children

Some concept stores in Germany carry children’s fashion, toys, or books. But there are only a few who focus on these children’s products together with children’s furniture. Examples include “La Luna” in Cologne, “Little Foshi” in Hamburg, and “zuckerfrei” and “D.nik” in Berlin.

“Today, customers are more informed and more sophisticated. They appreciate it when the store has its own style, which they can trust,” says Marion Kaiser, owner of La Luna in Cologne, explaining why she transformed her specialist shop into a “Family Concept Store”.

Jessica Schmidt, owner of “zuckerfrei” in Berlin-Neukölln describes her target group as: “Responsible 30+ generation. Healthy living and fair consumption.” She considers the range in her concept store to be one of its strengths. “You can find products from small manufacturers and family businesses, which you won’t find in specialist retailers. These are much more interesting, but unfortunately they get lost in the shuffle at the market leader retailers,” says Schmidt. In addition to the family atmosphere, her customers particularly appreciate the conversation.

Jana Rupprecht, a graduate designer, founded “d.nik” in Prenzlauer Berg in 2009. It was one of the first children’s concept stores in Germany. In addition to children’s fashion, customers will find high-quality wooden toys, tableware, exercise equipment, and furniture pieces for the children’s bedroom. These include design classics such as the “Panton Chair” for children, the Eiermann desk, the Harry Bertoias “Barcelona Chair”, or the Rolf Heide stacker, all in a child-size format. Rupprecht considers the curated selection of the products offered to be one advantage she has over specialist retailers. She often cooperates with young brands, but also with retail agencies.

“Every entrepreneur has to develop a strategy that is right for their concept and brand,” says Julia von Loessl. “The top priority should be the customers themselves and their customer journeys. Our customers like what they see. They appreciate that we put our passion and love into creating a store, a product portfolio, and a modern ambience that is inviting but also special and a little bit different.” Her advice for new founders: “Follow your dream.” To ensure that your dreams will be not red, but in the black, you will require a carefully designed concept.



Images: Andreas Murkudis / MINIMARKT / LUPACO Munich/ Zuckerfrei