I was in Paris to scout stores, treasures for clients, and see U2 in concert. The long weekend was cut short by the bombings; the city shut down in fear and mourning. I was having dinner in a Moroccan restaurant set between the two bomb sites at the time they went off. Cell phones started beeping as the news spread and tables quickly cleared. It was a sad trip. Despite the events I was able to do some store touring and shopping, the concert was postponed.
The next day the streets were clear for the more part with the exception of the area near Colette which still teamed with hustle and bustle as the ultra-chic carried on. Inspired to take it in, I stop in a café on the corner and indulged in people watching. While most other Paris retailers and restaurants were closed Colette was wall to wall people. The French “brick-and-click” clothing and accessory retailer is a three floor 8,000 square foot concept store that contain an exhibition space, bookshop, and a “water bar” serving more than 100 brands of bottled water. Seemingly staffed with more security than sales assistance it was merchandised to showcase all categories with a goal of effortless shopping almost to the extreme of grab and go. While the store does not feel luxurious like it once did, just after launching, there is no doubt its delivering high volume. In its current form, the industrial merchandising had several appeals. Despite the close quarters, crowds and large quality of highly varied goods, I did really see the products and could easily access everything not to mention that maintenance would be a snap. Many of the bust forms items were sold while I was there and there were long lines at the registers. Always a boutique worth watching.