AFTER YEARS IN THE BRAND consulting and retail design business, Simon Graj and Graj+Gustavsen, the firm he founded 20 years ago, are pioneering new retail formats.
Engineering a shopping experience based on human needs, the G+G Team believe they can create a compelling, successful retail model. “People have needs that are simply not being met in the market. We know what they are, and we know how to present shopping alternatives to resolve them.
“Right now, everyone is focused on survival. And we asked ourselves, how do we craft a retail experience that resolves that concern? But, it shouldn’t be dire. Make it cool, fun, and accessible,” Simon Graj says. “Helping people go fearlessly into the future – while enjoying themselves doing it – is the essence.”
“The working concept we are massaging is the Survival Store. It’s the general store of the future offering a wide array of life-products that make day-to-day living easier, greener, and just plain smarter. The store borrows ideas and products that were once dismissed as radical – like living off the grid, homesteading, and a preference for local foods – and makes them accessible and easy to understand. Store departments would include shelter, energy, food and water, and health and fitness. It’s a holistic mix,” says Graj.
“Survival is the most basic human instinct, so it shouldn’t be scary or stressful. We want to take the mystery out of it and offer elegant solutions for living that are smart, fun, and inspirational.”
Graj’s “human needs matrix” identifies product – and business – opportunities,
and also outlines departments in the store.
THE SURVIVAL STORE
The word retailing shares its origins with tailoring. The store of the future will be tailored to a totally different lifestyle: sustainable, functional, and assembled for the smart shopper. Its eclectic product mix will resemble the rugged general store, outfitter and provisioner of the past, but its rough-hewn character will not be a cliché for its own sake. It will be as technologically hip as it is environmentally aware. While store concepts of recent decades have been brain-drained, cookie-cutter replicas, the future store will be intelligence- and skill-intensive, teaching skeptical shoppers the art and science of living wisely and economically.
THE G&G LEXICON
HOMESTEADING: The mortgage meltdown will make the home even more valuable, but people will expect the home to work harder to justify its value. More people will work at home. It will be equipped with the latest computer and communications technology. But it will also be outfitted with rain-water barrels, solar shingles, wood-burning stoves, and durable, natural fabrics.
L.O.G. – LIVING OFF THE GRID: This L.O.G.-cabin mentality is no cliché. Instead of renouncing technology or retreating to bunkers, today’s pioneers will be ever more hip techno-mavens and expect sophisticated, respectful appeals from manufacturers and retailers alike.
SUSTAINABILITY: The era of disposability has ended. People want to know how to make everything work harder and last longer. In a positive sense, green and greed have finally converged.
SMART SHOPPERS: These are discriminating, cool people whose taste is matched by a determination to get a good deal on quality products with staying power. They don’t aspire to conspicuous consumption for its own sake and are not pushovers for brands or faddy trends. Skeptical consumers, they are loyal to retailers who respect their intelligence and who help them to live more wisely and economically.
THE MINDFUL STORE: After decades of cookie-cutterism and draining the brains out of retail locations, stores will once again become vibrant community centers and repositories of life-enhancing skills and expertise.
Retail: The root word means to cut up and shares its source with tailor. This store is tailored for a new lifestyle.
CORE CONCEPT AND TRIGGER WORDS:
Survival StoreSurvival Provisioner
Where Whole Earth Catalog meets Nike
New Generation outfitterFunctionality
Terra System, Earth SystemBuy less, live better
living off the gridsmart-recycling
sustainabilityconsume less & better
self-sufficiencybasic + useful, but also hip + cool
co-opdurable, lifetime warranty
not granola, hippybazaar and flea-market open
transformativeraw space, green space
communityintelligence-intensive at store level
brand-freeout of the oven, not cookie-cutter
goodness-drivenhealth, fitness, meditation
sharing, barteringsocialistic capitalism
artisanal + regional foodsenergy food bars
rain water barrelspower generators
solar shingleswool, cotton, bamboo, hemp
wood pelletswater conservation, wind power
composting binsprefab homes, smart cars
one-on-one sewing, craftstrading and swapping
wood-burning stovesclimbing wall
home freezing,canningvacuum storage