8 Apr 2021
This week: For every brand, it’s (always been) about growing communities. After a most unusual year – where will we gather, and why?
Last year, many of us chilled at home (the first place), and didn’t commute to work (the second place). Communal, public spaces – what sociologists call “third places” – are where, to put it simply, we choose to hang out with others.*
*Admit it: you’ve come for the retail insights, and stayed for the social theory.
• Third places are where we feel good and forge ties. Flirting with the bartender and chitchats with a shopkeeper are pretty crucial to our quality of life, reported Bloomberg. And after months of keeping our distance, the social anxiety is real.
• Without a physical space, can a community really flourish? “The smell, touch, feel – there is more to going to your third place than talking to your friends,” said environmental psychology professor Setha Low. And those sensations make all the difference for retailers. Or, as our CMO Gastón Tourn puts it: “More senses, more sales”.
• Big retail gets a bad rap for perpetuating social isolation. Does the hyper-efficiency of big chains – autonomous check-outs, retail robots – actually give indies an edge? “I suspect the decline of human interaction in supermarkets may give smaller retailers the chance to differentiate themselves,” wrote Sathnam Sanghera in an opinion piece for The Times.
So if you don’t know, now you know. Third places are what we’ve been missing all this time. After a year of flat screens, feels like we’re finally getting back to 3D.
Find us one consumer brand that’s not reliant on building a community. To wit, a few businesses that are opening a “third place” of their own.
Things everywhere are starting to pick up again, but this week we’re sending a special shout out to British brands, in honour of the UK’s big retail reopening.
• Handbag designer Anya Hindmarch revealed plans to open a collection of not one, but five spaces on the same street in London – where everything from accessories to biscuits will be sold. “It becomes my blank canvas for projects that we care about, causes that we care about. It’s a place where we can talk really directly to our community and to our followers and to our customers. And, it can be ever-changing,” Hindmarch told The Business of Fashion. Although you may or may not need a COVID passport to visit ‘The Village’ this spring.
• England eagerly awaits the return of outdoor hospitality on Monday, with reservations surging. Beer gardens are booked into June. Eater has got a list going of 2021 restaurant openings. “What am I most excited about next week? For All’s Well, it’s the sound of a buzzing restaurant; cocktail shaking, pans rattling and laughter,” said Chantelle Nicholson, Chef Owner of neighbourhood restaurant All’s Well, popping up with us in Hackney this summer.
• Beverly’s Shop, a specialty homewares store, just opened in NYC as a two-month pop-up. Owner Beverly Nguyen was inspired by her grandmother, the proprietor of a hardware store in ‘60s Vietnam, and hopes the space is as meaningful to the Chinatown locals as it is to visitors from further afield. “The shop is really for anyone who wants to build their own conversation and their own community,” she told The New York Times.
It’s only fitting that this week’s parting shot is from another member of the Appear Here community. Throwback to these wise words from Gloria Noto, founder of beauty brand NOTO Botanics: "Now more than ever, I am remembering why I decided to open a shop. To help be a part of a community that I would want to live in… I am excited for you to look in my window… To see that we are open, and we are here for you.”
All the feels man, all the feels.
Words by Amy Tai, creative consultant and native New Yorker now based in London.