First impressions are important in the retail and restaurant game. Getting customers to come in and make purchases in the first place, developing a reputation, and even conveying an atmosphere can be made easier by putting together an appropriate shopfront. Shopfronts are a huge part of towns and cities: without them, things would indeed look different. Walking down the high street would certainly lose some of its significance. Here are some remarkable shopfronts worldwide, and a little bit about what each example can teach us about marketing, branding, and retail aesthetics.
Berry Brothers and Rudd Wine Merchants – London
This shop has traded in London since 1698 and has a shopfront to match its venerable history. Berry Brothers and Rudd trade in that most luxurious and complex of commodities: wine. The front of the shop, which was installed in 1800, absolutely oozes history and status. It is glazed with a deep and glossy black, with beaten panels and wooden shutters adorning the thin columns.
When trading in something as luxurious as wine in the middle of a busy metropolis, it is important to exude a unique knowledge. The Berry Brothers and Rudd store’s deadly serious shopfront lets potential customers know that they are about to enter a place of expertise and long-held knowledge. It is not just the product they are selling but also the atmosphere and advice they have on hand in spades. The wine seller is as important as the wine itself in getting customers to choose between merchants.
Katz’ Delicatessen – New York City
Katz’ Deli is a New York City institution. The kosher eatery is a mecca for food lovers who flock to the Lower East Side to experience some of the best salt beef, pastrami, and matzo ball soup in the entire world. The front of this palace of savory food perfectly reflects its place as a classic landmark. The neon shop sign evokes the hustle and bustle of mid-century New York City when immigrants bought new and exciting culinary traditions into the palette of the city that never sleeps.
Katz’s shopfront reflects the shop itself – an institution. The bold neon signage has remained, while other shops got rid of theirs years ago. Sometimes, persistence can be a good marketing tool. The neon sign is not considered to be a colloquial trademark – customers see the neon sign and know they will get an authentic experience and a fine sandwich. Shop front signs can showcase brand identity, reputation and help them stand out from the crowd, which in a high street that is lined with shops is an important task.
Haibara Stationery – Tokyo
Stationery is a big deal in Japan, where calligraphy is considered an extremely virtuous hobby with aesthetic and spiritual value. Haibara is one of the finest stationery shops in Tokyo and has a unique shopfront. The ornate symmetry of the shop’s exterior captures the essence of what the shop is trying to offer – aesthetic perfection. From across the street, the shop looks like a perfectly wrapped gift. Traditional calligraphy is strung on neat linens above the shop’s entrance.
This shop front’s design is used to convey the shop’s long history merging with its up-to-date fashionable design. The business can trace its roots back 200 years, but still offers modern products imbued with traditional Japanese aestheticism. The storefront combines neat modern symmetry with traditional calligraphic writing to make this relationship between the past and the present obvious to visitors.
Bon-Banes Café – Brighton
Bon-Banes is not quite like any other café in the world. The food is nothing special, and the coffee is adequate. The experience and aesthetic attention to detail are, however, quite stunning. The tiny café is run by inventor, singer, and harmonium player Jane Bon-Bane – a woman known for her large mechanical hats collection. The shopfront goes at least some way towards preparing you for the magical world that lies within. A spinning plaster replica of Jane herself twirls slowly from a podium hanging out over the street. Her likeness is, of course, wearing a mechanical hat. The bizarre twirling statue gives the visitor a glimpse into the whirring inventions and oddities that are to be found within.
A shopfront can convey an abstract atmosphere to potential customers. This is a wonderful marketing tool. Some things cannot be conveyed with words alone. Many businesses put a huge amount of effort into cultivating an atmosphere, only for nobody to realize what they might be missing. Project your uniqueness!