Fascinating Tales From Amsterdam: The Dutch WayOct 13, 2020
NOTE: Chanda visited Amsterdam at the beginning of this year. All stores referenced in this article are still open.
By Chanda Kumar
Walking through the charming cobbled streets, with hidden gems around every corner, I was surprised with the fresh, simple yet unassuming ways that brands and stores in Amsterdam are engaging with people in retail environments.
While the city landscape is enveloped in exquisite architecture, both contemporary and heritage, retail too has learned to infuse itself in the local stories and urban fabric of these buildings to become a must see. Some embrace the glory of the past while others recreating new fame. One such iconic retail spots was Hermes’ newest store in Amsterdam located on PC Hoofstraat, which has gained popularity with the store’s glass façade that emotes luxury while still retaining the city’s historical character. Passersby come closer just to touch and admire the brilliant use of Murano glass in recreating this spectacular storefront.
Involving customers to be part of your brand story and philosophy is prevalent in various stores. However, none stood out like Tony’s Chocolonely store at Beurs van Berlage, a 100 year old former building of the Stock Exchange in Amsterdam which is now used as an exhibition and concert hall. Interestingly, it is also the building where the cocoa trade was already operating in 1903. At the store, Tony’s Superstars will tell you all about the world’s best chocolate and Tony’s determination to make all chocolate slave-free.
It’s also a fantasy land for chocoholics to make sweet treats their own way. So, whether you want to create your bar of chocolate from scratch or just put together your favorite assortment in an egg case, the brand takes the confectionery category to the next level.
Buzz & Activity
Activity and engagement are vital in retail today, and we spotted interesting formats across the city. It was as simple as quirky photo booths that attracted customers (even in the age of smart-phones) to completely fresh ideas of engagement. With its impressive windmill attraction and brick versions of famed Dutch artists, LEGO’s newest flagship on Kalverstraat takes one step ahead to engross LEGO enthusiasts. A dedicated corner where you can create your unique portrait with the LEGO Portrait Mosaic Maker.
Breathing New Life
Some brands have lent a great character to old and dilapidated buildings, transforming them into interesting new-age spaces. Clever juxtaposition of brand and built environment, these spaces are great storytellers and conversation starters, pulling in crowds to soak in.
Coffee & Coconuts café and coffee roastery, set in a former cinema theatre built in 20s, is now a funky place to grab a coffee in the city. White washed walls, stripped shell, suspended tables and chairs from the ceiling and industrial elements surprisingly offers an easy and comfy beach-shack vibe.
Embracing the specialty and all things ‘unique’ of the local Dutch region and community is seen in many charming stores, boutiques and galleries. Each having a rare story to tell, these brands are quite popular among tourists and locals alike. Promoting Dutch Art, Fashion and Design, X Bank is an urban concept store and exhibition space that celebrates artists in a unique ambience that makes you linger for a while. A great example of lively retail experiences, and a creative incubator for local talents, the store is nestled in the historic Kas Bank building, which was opened in 1908. A vault of Dutch creativity, the store is a must-see to complete your design journey in the city.
Chanda is a journalist and writer involved in reporting/interviewing and writing news and feature articles across many sectors including retail, retail design, architecture, visual merchandising, FMCG, shopper marketing and more. She is currently the Head of Marketing, Communication & Strategy at our sister company in India, Future Research Design Company. http://www.frdc.in/